After a two-hour afternoon walk in the early spring sunshine, reminiscing their shared passion for volleyball, Brazilian volleyball coach Daniel Runha and LKTBF Founder Lesley de Jonge hung up the phone. Daniel shared his story and motivation to promote accessibility to volleyball to everyone, everywhere! He was willing to give up everything to be able to help.
Daniel was running his own beach volleyball school on the beaches of Barcelona for all ages, but something in his heart told him he wanted more. As soon as he found out about Let's Keep The Ball Flying, he decided to reach out.
Now, a few months later, Daniel is running volleyball classes in our volleyball 4 refugees project in Greece.
Yoga & Sport with Refugees
To enable more social impact, we managed to expand our work on the Greek island of Lesbos starting a fresh collaboration with Yoga & Sport with Refugees. This local NGO empowers refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos through yoga activities and sport.
LKTBF Fingerprints Guus & Marloes (who volunteered in Lesbos before) set the base for this collaboration and made sure we are offering materials, equipment, and a volleyball court that can be used for refugees on the island. As a cherry on the cake, we managed to send Daniel to boost the project head-on.
Daniel's First Days in Greece
After escaping from a conflict zone, volleyball becomes more than just a game! It's an opportunity to build new friendships, relieve stress, and spark hope for the future.
"To be called a refugee is the opposite of an insult; it is a badge of strength, courage, and victory.”
Daniel started working immediately, trying to integrating society no matter their background. Already 50 people showed up in the first days.
"I want to create a melting pot of cultures, smiles, fun, and respect."
As a true family man, Daniel doesn't stop with just the volleyball sessions. He wants to get to know everybody. Hear their stories and connect with the community.
In the next few days, Daniel created new training groups for teenagers and for women. The groups keep growing and it is only the beginning. We made sure to sent a box of balls to keep up with the attendance. In late October, another box of 50 balls is scheduled to arrive in Greece.
For girls to be coached by men is not common. Daniel refuses to give up on this and continues to build a community in which refugees, locals, men, women, kids, and volunteers are all involved and working together. The list of nationalities keeps growing: 🇦🇫🇩🇪🇮🇳🇨🇴🇩🇪🇨🇭🇮🇷🇬🇷🇸🇴🇮🇶🇳🇱
With his positive energy, he is managing great results! Daniel even managed to educate his first two assistant coaches who are now currently responsible for doing the warm-ups.
On day 8, Daniel shared another beautiful moment with us:
"I have kids who have been here for 3 years and never had a chance to have dinner at a restaurant. We went together and what a joy, privilege, and blessing to be part of that special moment!"
On day 12, Daniel reached a special milestone:
"Yesterday was a day that allowed the dream to be completely reached. We now are responsible for coaching everyone here; from little kids to adults. No matter age nor gender. We are here to provide the best experience for everyone. Everyone matters and deserves the chance to laugh, learn and play."
As Daniel continues building, he will be accompanied with help soon. The Let's Keep The Ball Flying team will arrive in Lesbos from October 20-26 with two very special guests and a camera crew to shoot a documentary.
"It has been two weeks working here and without a question the most fascinating experience that I have been in my personal and professional life."
Volleyball 4 Refugees in The Netherlands
During the recent Afghanistan crisis, more refugees arrived in our founding country. Fingerprints Guus & Marloes were already managing a volleyball program that we run in Nijmegen. Refugees get to play volleyball every week including a coach that takes care of the training.
Currently, we are expanding the work setting up volleyball camps in Zoutkamp, where the new refugee center hosts refugees from the Kabul evacuations.
Sharing Gear & Equipment
To help people in need, we have created special packages with shoes, jerseys, and balls that we give away for free. If you know anybody that could use one of our packages, please reach out to us!
Do you want to support our volleyball 4 refugees program in Greece? Join our community now!