One of the best things about our work with PAFRAS over the past 12 months has been meeting other organisations and projects who are doing similar things to ourselves – using football as a tool to bring people together and prove the increasing number of racist and ignorant views we hear amongst society wrong. To prove that there is an alternative to the “us and them” propaganda that is spouted by the racist bigots. That alternative is to open your eyes and see that we are all equal, we are all people, regardless of where we were born or what colour skin we have.
We’ve been inspired in the past 18 months by the teams we’ve met and played with, their positive attitudes and the great work they are doing in their communities has really inspired us – and which has led us in recent months to start up our own football team, which sees our members playing alongside refugees and asylum seekers from local refugee charity PAFRAS.
We were contacted a couple of months ago by the ‘Football Beyond Borders’ (FBB) project, who every year run a ‘tour’ to increase awareness of the social problems that exist within that country. After international tours over the past 5 years, FBB decided to focus on the UK this year, and they had organised a tour taking in London, Bradford, Leeds and Manchester amongst other places throughout their journey! They asked us if we would be interested in meeting up and potentially organising something, and it was something we were delighted to be given the chance to be involved in.
We quickly organised a 5-a-side tournament, featuring two teams from FBB due to the number of players on their tour, plus the Yorkshire St. Pauli FC team. We then invited Republica Internationale, a long-running socialist football team from Leeds who have supported us immensely over the past few years, and the Archway Project, who provide support for young people aged 16-25 in Leeds by providing a number of services.
Onto the tournament itself. Whilst the football is the reason behind everyone coming together, the results on the pitch were secondary to the result off it. Winning was secondary to teams meeting up, most for the first time, sharing details of their work, meeting people involved in similar projects and sharing stories. It was a great night, and we have to thank all those who turned up and who helped support the event – the teams themselves, Lucozade Powerleague Leeds for once again supporting us to run a great event, PAFRAS for donating some food and cakes for the players to show their appreciation and Archway for providing the trophy! Whilst we made have organised the event, it was a real team effort from everyone involved that made it a success.
The football itself was a league format, with each team playing each other in 9 minute matches. Football Beyond Borders were victorious in the end, with their two teams finishing first and second in the league. A huge well done to the winning team, FBB 2, who scored 21 goals and didn’t concede at all. Fantastic performances are they deserved to take home the trophy. YSP FC conceded their trend of high scoring games, scoring 8 and conceding 18 in their 4 matches. Worth the entry fee alone.
A huge thank you again to everyone who turned up and took part, but most importantly thank you for the excellent work you do and for inspiring us and hopefully others to get involved in local community projects and help show what can be done when communities come together.
No Borders. No Nations. Just People.
Please take a moment to read more about the teams and projects involved on their websites:
Football Beyond Borders: http://www.footballbeyondborders.org
You can also read the blog post of the event on the FBB blog here.