Deník.cz: Klub Mixér Brings Hope to a Town in North-West CzechiaPublished: Oct 20, 2022 Reading time: 4 minutes
Předlice is an isolated town in the region of Ústí nad Labem in the Czech Republic. It's the kind of place where sometimes you see garbage strewn around the lots of abandoned houses and overgrown yards soon become landfills. Despite all that, there is one place that provides hope. Klub Mixér. A club created by People in Need (PIN), Klub Mixér provides a place for people between the ages of six and twenty-six to spend their time playing football, going on trips, or taking part in creative other activities.
Předlice in Need
PIN has been operating in the region of Ústí nad Labem since 1999 and we have a branch directly in Předlice, where we are the only non-profit currently present and actively engaged in social work. We help people effectively communicate with the authorities, look for or re-train for a job, and/or find basic medical services. We also offer public services to clients of the Labour Office clients who have been registered for over a year. They help us run our activities, devoting around thirty hours a month. “We help keep them active, give them self-confidence so that they can succeed on the labour market and be employed,” explains Radka Kunešová, the Social Services Coordinator at our Ústí nad Labem branch.
However, the most pressing problem is the quality of housing. “And we can't solve that. We can't control who buys the house, how they take care of it and how they treat the tenants,” she sighs. But we at least try to help people by making sure their leases are correct so that they have the opportunity to apply for housing benefits or get money to pay a deposit for an apartment. Or even find a better address later on.
The two-story white building of PIN shines into the surroundings like an island of hope. There is a children's playground there and a small area with an artificial football field on the property. From the ground floor of the house, you can hear the joyful squealing of children. This is the residence of Klub Mixér. PIN also runs one of its two preschool clubs out of this residence, which focuses on preparing the children for kindergarten or for primary school.
Předlice has a reputation for being a “no go zone,” as most of the media surrounding the town tends to be negative. We’ve been trying to fix this with Klub Mixér for several years. We created the YouTube channel, TV Předlice, where we film stories with the children about the events taking place in order to help dilute the negative image that the city has on the Internet. Our team also goes out of its way to comment on some of the unresolved issues in the district. Two young Roma reporters have even received the Gratias Tibi Award in 2014 for young volunteers working to improve the world around them.
“We want to show children what can be done in their free time,” explains Nikol Šedivá, an employee of Klub Mixér. That's why our branch there runs sport, art and music activities and organises hikes, trips and summer camps. “We also help [the children] with school, we tutor them, we do homework with them. And if they don't know what their homework is, we call their teacher,” she adds.
The most difficult thing is to keep teenagers at our centre. That's why we've joined the Fair Football League project, which is about much more than just playing football. It's about receiving an informal education and learning important life skills, like effective communication, teamwork, respect, emotional management and respectful disagreement.
The project is also called Fotbal3 because it consists of “three halves”. It starts with a pre-match discussion, where the players and the referee set the rules and agree on how the match will be played. Then the game itself happens without a referee and everything is managed based on what the players agreed beforehand. The referee only watches the time. In the third and final part, there is a post-match discussion. “Teams can praise each other or scold each other. They evaluate what they liked and what they didn't like, and at the end they distribute points,” explains Šedivá. As a result, teams may get more points for fairness than for winning the match. They might also get extra points, for example if they let “a girl play with them, or when big teenagers play with little ones and treat them with respect and let them win just to make them happy,” says Šedivá, who's in charge of coordinating the Fair Football in the Ústí Region.