This article is based on an interview with Ayoub Regragui, a Moroccan returnee.
Ayoub is a young Moroccan, born in 1995 in Casablanca, Morocco. At the moment of writing, he has graduated as Community Organizer in Cross Cultures Youth Leadership Education, comprising of 300 hours of theoretical and practical action-learning based schooling. The education provides him with tangible experience in the field, the necessary tools to identify and target social needs and issues in his local community combined with the formation of stakeholder management and cross-sectorial partnerships our aim is to counterbalance the motivations for illegal migration.
Exactly migration is a focal point in Ayoub’s story: As a kid, he fell in love with football and played almost daily in his neighbourhood up until his late teens. Unfortunately, due to the absence of a positive role model and mentor to keep him off the streets combined with difficulties in school he was affected by the negative environment surrounding him and his community. Since he was then unable to chase his dream of becoming a professional player in Casablanca, it made him migrate illegally to Europe, as he believed chances were better there.
“This depression was a trigger for his second attempt at illegal immigration.“
Thus, he dropped out of middle school and migrated clandestinely to Marseille, France, being smuggled in a commercial ship from the port of Casablanca. Not long after his arrival, he decided to return to Casablanca, due to the harsh conditions in the detention centre, xenophobia and family issues. Upon his return, Ayoub joined a football club while trying to catch up with high school, and the game became his ticket for a better life.
Unfortunately, he suffered a crippling injury during his senior year and the club wouldn’t reimburse him the expenses for the two surgeries he underwent. Seeing his body unfit to chase his dream and the club he played for and loved treating him as a dirty towel resulted in a deep depression. This depression was a trigger for his second attempt at illegal immigration. During his final year of high school, he chose to drop out once again and migrate clandestinely, this time in a small homemade dingy with other migrants from the northern city Ksar Sghir. Motivated in the pursue of training and knowledge on how to become a great coach within the domain of football he set out once again in the dark. This time he aimed for Spain, and once again despite several months of stay, he was unable to find work due to issues of discrimination and xenophobia and his illegal status. In his fourth month in Spain, he was deported back to Morocco after being caught in a police raid.
Coming back, he didn’t waste time; he took a job in his local gym where he met a man who later became his mentor – a role model which Ayoub had been looking for his entire life. The more time Ayoub spent in the gym with his mentor, the more he learned and he came steps closer to fulfilling his dream of becoming a coach.
“…Ayoub now knows that illegal migration is not the answer
to a better life.“
Ayoub started mentoring the youth and kids in his neighbourhood and helping them stay away from the streets, drugs and abuse by organizing daily activities and a place for them to hang out. All of the above was exactly what he had been needing as a young kid. The activities were realized in collaboration with local stakeholders and people from adjacent neighbourhoods, as well as a few local gyms which sponsored Ayoub. His dream had now changed, and he wanted to become the best physical trainer in Africa, thus being a role model for at-risk youth.
Ayoub is aware that he has the competencies and the willpower to achieve his dreams, although he knows that the learning never stops which is why he chose to take part in the Cross Cultures Youth Leadership Education with 24 other Sub-Saharan migrants. With the skillset and competencies acquired within Cross Cultures, Ayoub now knows that illegal migration is not the answer to a better life. Rather, his call is the target the root cause of illegal migration in his community – the lack of jobs, possibilities and a social network to empower youth and children.
We are proud to see him graduate and are impatiently following him in his endeavours. Ayoub wishes to use the power of sports, the power of education and the power of Open Fun Football Schools to help children gain soft skills, social values and discover sport in a fun way.