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Suffolk FA and Suffolk New College Unite for Football Welcomes!
20th June 2023
Football Studies students arranged the Football Welcomes event. Celebrating refugees and asylum seekers and showing how football can create inclusive communities.
The event held at Goals in Ipswich was to celebrate the Amnesty International Football Welcomes project.
This recognises the contribution players with a refugee background make to the beautiful game, and the positive role football can play in bringing people together and creating more welcoming communities.
This was the first time Suffolk FA have worked with Suffolk New College students to deliver a project like this and it was a huge success.
The Football Studies students were tasked with creating the Football Welcomes Festival from scratch, everything from writing a risk assessment, advertising the festival, encouraging refugees to participate, planning fixtures, refereeing the small-sided matches, working out the scores, managing the teams, whilst trying to communicate and breach multiple different language barriers.
Suffolk FA were able to secure black Amnesty Football Welcomes t-shirts for the players and white ones for the football studies students.
Dan Greenwood, AoC National Football Development Manager “Suffolk FA’s ‘Football Welcomes’ is a great example of how County FAs and colleges can work collaboratively to deliver local outcomes through football. By working with Suffolk New College, Suffolk FA were able to access a wider cohort of eligible participants that otherwise would have faced a number of barriers accessing community football opportunities.
‘Football Welcomes’ demonstrates that County FAs and colleges working collaboratively can open up new opportunities for all partners and AoC Sport look forward to supporting Suffolk New College to use this event as a catalyst for future engagement with their refugee student cohort.”
Players from a wide range of backgrounds attended, with at least 10 different nationalities participating in the event, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Portugal, Sudan and Syria.
Despite all of the different languages involved, football was the overriding universal language and one that everyone understood.