Soccer event unites Chinese & Syrians
2017-02-15 17:40:00 -
By Chinedu Onyejelem

Santry in north Dublin recently played host to a special inter-community soccer tournament ‘for peace and friendship’.

The City of Sanctuary Dublin said the event between the capital’s Chinese and Syrian communities was organised “to create a culture of welcome and safety for refugees and other migrants in Dublin”.

The six-a-side tournament at the Dublin Indoor Football centre featured four teams, three Chinese and one Syrian – the latter going on to win the competition that was followed by a mini food festival.

“We did not really care for the result,” said Xiaoming Liu, organiser and Captain of the Chinese teams as well as marketing director of Huarenzhi New Media.

For him and his fellow players, “warm feelings” were what mattered most. 

Xiaoming said what convinced him to organise the Chinese teams for the event was the possibility of using soccer to heal wounds related to the ongoing conflict Syria. 

“We all know that Syria is in a turmoil at the moment and we wanted to help,” he said. “After a match between Chinese and Syrian national teams, when they played last year at the 2018 World Cup qualifier in China, Syria won the match, and there was a temporary ceasefire in Syria because of it.

“So when the idea [for the tournament] was mooted, we said ‘Why not – if it could stop the war or help in anyway’.”
Xiaoming said the success of the mini-tournament – which he solely credits to the players and fellow organisers – has made him think about future matches with other migrant communities. 

“We hope we can do it regularly, some sort of a league for all the countries,” he added.

The winning Syrian team comprised 12 players who participated in turns: including three Irish, two Polish, and seven Syrians, one of whom has a Japanese mother) 

Team captain Taha Kakaa said the match was a wonderful initiative.

“It’s brilliant, we all enjoyed,” he added. “At the end of the day we are all miles away [from home], and meeting with Chinese people and different communities was all brilliant.

“For me, I’ve never been to a Chinese restaurant and seeing [and eating] the food was brilliant.”

Kakaa stressed that many Syrians in Ireland are happy with their lives here. 

“When I arrived here I had difficulties settling down for nearly a year. However, I am here [now for] 16 years and I have never been in a bad situation or called names.”

He added: “Most of the [Syrians] that were here before the revolution started, they do have good experience in Ireland. For those who came since the war, it’s not easy for them. I think that would improve with time.”
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