The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) joined Sport Against Racism Ireland (Sari) to kick off World Refugee Day 2015 in style with the sixth annual Fair Play Cup on Sunday 21 June.
Twenty soccer teams drawn from refugee and community groups, direct provision centres, NGOs and the media across the country battled it out for the coveted trophy at the Law Society Gardens at Blackhall Place in Dublin’s north inner city.
In all some 200 players from a host of different countries, including Myanmar, DR Congo, South Sudan, Vietnam and Ireland, took part on the day.
UNHCR Ireland head of office Sophie Magennis described the Fair Play Cup as “a fantastic opportunity for refugees and Irish people to mix together in a positive, fun atmosphere.
“The passion shown by the players and spectators on the day is always heart-lifting and it reminds us of the great contribution refugees make to the countries that offer them protection,” she added.
Perry Ogden, chairman of Sari, said ahead of the event: “On World Refugee Day we all try to remember the things that connect us and without doubt sport remains one of the most effective ways of connecting people and breaking down barriers.
“This is the sixth year of the Sari UNHCR Fair play cup and every year more and more people come along to show their support for the event and the participants. Sari’s greatest strength and experience is in organising and delivering inter-cultural sports events that allow people to learn about their similarities rather than call out the differences.”
The Fair Play Cup kicked off a series of initiatives run by the UNHCR and NGOs to mark World Refugee Day, including UNHCR Ireland’s book-reading campaign in libraries and bookshops nationwide from 15-26 June, which explored the devastating impact of war on families through books that highlight refugee issues.