Another success for SoccerFest
2013-10-01 19:15:09 -

Galway All Stars were the big winners of the Tesco Mobile Sari Cup at the 17th annual Sari SoccerFest, held in Dublin’s Phoenix Park on the weekend of 14-15 September.   

The Galway lads beat the Kenya-connected Gunner Boys in an exciting final that ended 1-0 in extra time. And the All Stars’ goalie Julian Yaho was also rewarded for his stellar performance with the ‘player of the tournament’ award.

According to Sari’s executive chair Perry Ogden, this year’s Tesco Mobile Sari SoccerFest was the biggest one yet, with some 600 players taking part in 56 teams and attracting an audience of thousands to Phoenix Part for Europe’s biggest intercultural soccer tournament.

“That started quite a small thing in 1997, maybe with 10 teams, on one day,” said Ogden ahead of the weekend’s matches. “But now it’s growing in the Phoenix Park with 56 teams.

“Teams are coming from all over the Ireland, from Belfast, from Limerick, from Galway, from Kerry – 600 people will play football this year. It’s so important, bringing all these people together.

One of the players, Anderson De Souza from Brazil was full of praise for the tournament. “I have been playing this festival for the last four years,” he said. “The SoccerFest is very important, to unite people from different races and countries.”

Another, Hassan Buraale from Somalia, was in agreement – though he felt some things could be improved.

“For example, in the Polish team’s match, the referee is Polish [which is] not fair,” he said. “Everything else is great about this festival, but that kind of thing should change.”

For the spectators, however, there was nothing to quibble about on a weekend that included fun activities for all the family aside from all the on-field soccer action, with face painting, jugging, drumming workshops and more.

“I came this festival for the first time,” said Irish woman Liz Doheny. “It’s very good because sport is bringing all the different races of people together and integrating people with others.”

Another Irish spectator, Nicola Devine, said: “My brother is a referee in matches and we came to support him. But it’s great festival – we came with our children and we are having a really good time.”

Back on the pitches, gongs also went to Chinese Reds, who claimed the Tesco Mobile Sari Plate; St Catherine’s, who won the women’s tournament; and the team from Traveller support network Pavee Point, who won the James Gill Under-13 Fair Play Cup.

Young people are a particular focus of Sari’s activities throughout the year, as Ogden explained.

“We have programme of free weekly football training sessions for boys and girls aged 14-18. That starts every year in October.

“Participants have the opportunity to represent Sari and compete at national and international events. And in May, we have athletic events like Africa Week Athletics.”
The aim of such projects, whatever the sport involved, is to combat racism by bringing together people from all the different cultures in Ireland to promote intercultural dialogue.

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