Zurück zur Übersicht

Right to Run partner: PlayTogetherNow

Meet the team of friends using sport, food, theater and more to help refugees settle into Austrian life

 

When Austria experienced an increase in refugee arrivals in 2015, mostly as a result of the civil war in Syria, Daniel Kemper and his friend Joe Schramml felt compelled to help. With a history of studying community development through sport, they teamed up to launch the soccer program PlayTogetherNow. The Vienna-based grassroots group has since grown to include a community running club, a class to develop cooking skills, an acting and theater project, a women-only soccer club, and more. Here, Daniel tells their extraordinary story.

 

 

Many of the refugees coming to Vienna [in 2015] were young men – often 15 to 17 years old – from conflict regions such as Syria and Afghanistan. A lot of them, particularly Afghans, loved soccer already. Joe and I visited the refugee camps to present our idea to them. It was like a pitch, in a way. We offered for them to join us – and many did.

 

PlayTogetherNow began centered on soccer. Most people know the game and the values around fair play. As Joe and I also loved the sport, we decided that it was a good starting point. Our running club, RunTogetherNow, has been particularly important in reaching out to Ukrainian refugees. They have been coming to Vienna since the war in Ukraine started in August 2021. It was like déjà vu, seeing people arriving at the train station just like we saw in 2015.

 

 

We opened the Theater of Dreams project after seeing the success of our soccer program. We could see there were other interests within the refugee community. The group put on a big theater piece [in Vienna] just before the pandemic in 2019 – and we are hoping to do the same again this year, which everyone is very excited about.

 

Our women’s soccer team is called PlayTogetherNow Phoenix. They play in the women’s amateur league here in Vienna. Our SwimTogetherNow project, which offers professional swimming coaching, holds separate workshops for women and girls – because we have realized this is key for our community to feel comfortable. Women and girls aged 12 to 40 join us for these sessions.

 

 

The CookTogetherNow project is an opportunity to bring all of our program members together. We cook together and invite our members from the other projects, volunteers, partners and our wider community to eat together. It’s a good chance to encourage community building and we encourage locals from Vienna to join us. They can provide contacts and share advice on daily life or employment.

 

For those who have been with us longer, we must consider how to best help them now. Their basic needs have changed. Many have been granted asylum and can work, so we address how to get a job, how to present themselves in interviews and how to write resumés. We try to develop with our community and respond to what people need. 

 

We continue as a 100% voluntary organization. Today, 50 to 60 volunteers coach our various programs and offer mentorships. Some of us work 20-30 hours a week, alongside full-time jobs and families. As time goes on, some of the older community members who know the spirit of PlayTogetherNow ask to become mentors for the newer community members. It’s a beautiful thing.

 

Find out more about PlayTogetherNow.

 

Discover Right to Run
Running. Most of us think it comes easily. But the truth is, there are countless barriers that stop people from running. That's why we're launching a new social impact partnerships program supporting and amplifying the work that local communities are doing to drive change. Because everybody has the Right to Run.
Learn more