League brings nation of footballers to Wales

Sports:

Football

Location:

Cardiff

When a team from Somalia beat a team of Kurds on a Cardiff football pitch a few months ago, the 3-1 win meant more than confirming a league title.

The maiden Cymru Refugee League honours, picked up by Tiger Bay FC, highlighted the appetite to play the game amongst asylum seekers and refugee players in and around Cardiff.

The 11-a-side adult league consisted of six teams, each representing their own nationalities - including Somalia, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Sudan and Eritrea.

And there has been big success.

The project has produced approximately 100 new registered players, 24 new level one coaches, even newly qualified football referees and six candidates who are progressing to their C certificate (level two).

With the backing of Refugee Voice Wales,the project was funded by Sport Wales (£8228) and the Welsh Football Trust. Funding covered the start-up cost, facility hire, coach education and even portable toilets for the venues as there were none available at the ground.

"The main objective of the league is to facilitate mainstream football playing opportunities for players that are playing park football without any structure,"said Mizan Rahman, BME Football Inclusion Officer at the Welsh Football Trust.

 "There are many talented players in this project who have recently arrived in the UK seeking asylum and playing park football with their new friends makes them feel welcome into the society.

"Giving them an opportunity to play mainstream football gives them the chance to meet and associate with the wider community members of Cardiff and helps improve community cohesion and also helps that individual player build confidence to play or try out for already existing clubs that we have running in Cardiff and district league.

"It is difficult for them to play in existing leagues due to some players facing language as a barrier and lack of transport, players can't afford to pay subs every week and travel expenses."

All going to plan, the 2013/14 season will kick-off on November 30th. The Welsh Football Trust will coordinate the league with six teams competing for the title.

Themba Moyo, Chairman for Refugee Voice Wales commented:

"This was an excellent opportunity to introduce league football to those who did not have the opportunity to participate in the mainstream football league. It has created space to increase community cohesion between the different nationalities in Cardiff and showcase the talent amongst the refugees in Wales"

Rahman added:

"We've been making some progress on running a duplicate project in Wrexham as there is quite a high BME population that are here seeking asylum, and refugee citizens. As the moment we are looking for a suitable volunteer to coordinate the project on behalf of the Welsh Football Trust - so watch this space."

Success At A Glance

  • 100 new players playing under FAW rules and regulation
  • 22 new level 1 BME coaches
  • 6 new BME coaches currently on Level 2 course
  • 6 qualified referees - 2 referees active on a regular basis
  • 2 new futsal qualified referees
  • Improved community cohesion between different communities in Cardiff
  • Improved confidence in individuals in their everyday tasks
  • Improved BME sport participation in Cardiff.

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