World Cup atmosphere heats up ‘Fair Play’ on Refugee Day
2018-07-01 15:17:35 -
Photo source: Mark Henderson 

By Ken McCue

Many of the countries not represented at the Fifa World Cup in Russia were on display in Dublin for the ninth annual Fair Play soccer tournament hosted by Sport Against Racism Ireland (Sari) and the UNHCR at the Law Society on Blackhall Place. 

As ever marking World Refugee Day, this year the popular event tied in with the Stoneybatter Community Festival to further the cultural integration of a diverse ethnic community in the north-west inner city neighbourhood that has a population of 40 per cent born overseas.

The Fair Play tournament brings together programme refugees and ‘refugees in waiting’ from direct provision centres around the country who comprised teams representing Syria, Vietnam and Myanmar, along with guest teams from popular podcasters Second Captains (assisted by some former Republic of Ireland internationals) and regular Sari supporters Hot Press. 

When the final whistle was blown, it was a team from Brazil, the country that are now favourites for the Russia tournament, that lifted the Fair Play Cup in the men’s tournament.

In the women’s competition, meanwhile, the Irish Homeless Street League took the honours in a hard-fought division that included Brazil United, Mary Byrne FC and Diverse City FC. 

The Diverse City team grew out of Sari’s Hijabs and Hat Tricks programme, and this year they opened up their ranks to young women from the Kilkenny direct provision centre. It was an opportunity for Sari coach Amina Moustafa to make connections that will contribute to a new multi-sport programme for direct provision centres that she developed at the recent Michael Johnson Young Leaders programme in the USA.

This year’s Fair Play event was also visited by the Jerusalem NGO Kids for Peace, who are guests of the Dublin City Interfaith Forum. The youngsters who are drawn from Muslim, Jewish and Christian backgrounds were addressed by Moustafa and Fadhila Hajji, who emphasised the importance of sport as a medium for cultural integration and social inclusion in Ireland.

Hajji, a Sari coach and volunteer co-ordinator with the Under One Tent movement, explained how Muslim youth in Dublin have been successful in tackling Islamophobia by reaching out to other religious denominations, civil and official society. 

Sport plays a very important role in this process, and Hajji suggested that Kids For Peace might consider the SARI programme and project models for their own purposes, and perhaps invite a prominent sport personality to become a ‘peace hero’.

The white lines will stay in place at the Law Society as it hosts the Nepalese Community Football Festival on Monday 9 July, organised by the 977 Crew with technical support from Sari.

Following on their heels will be the Eid World Football Cup organised by the young members of Hijabs and Hat Tricks and fellow Sari programme Soccernites. This year’s event will raise funds for the Islamic Relief health programme in Gaza.
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