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Football Welcomes – Player’s Perspective

We hear from one of the young players who attends the Football United sessions.

Ahead of our friendly game against Everton in the Community’s refugee side to celebrate Amnesty International UK’s Football Welcomes campaign, one of the young players who is currently seeking asylum in the UK told us about the common challenges that he and his fellow players face.

Most children here have been through hard life experiences and tough journeys to be here in the UK. The reason for their being here is because they are in search of hope, to belong and some to find happiness or distraction from weekly challenges they go through. The kids we have today are from various countries Eritrea, Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria, and Iran just to mention a few and also only aged 16-19.

They have been through horrific journeys, some have had to walk through deserts for miles in order to get to safety, some travelled in small boats that could have capsized at any moment killing them because no one knew of their whereabouts, some have slept in camps with no blankets, no food or water for days, weeks and some maybe eating only once a month.

Each child here with us has a different story to tell and being here today is something worthy of a round of applause because they have had the courage to be here and have a sense of hope that there is still more to life than what has happened in the past.

Some of these kids are still waiting for decisions from the Home Office, some don’t have lawyers to represent them, some have been called liars from the stories they have told they went through and have been denied the right to stay in the country. You can only imagine how they feel about their future, whether they may be returned to the countries from which they fled in search of safety and trying to have a better life or get accepted. All in all it’s not clear what comes next for them. Some of them have sleepless nights, suicidal thoughts, because they feel like there is a system that is not willing to help so it’s better they are not alive to see what happens next.

It’s easy for us to feel sorry for them or judge but truly we can only feel the pain they are going through if we were in their shoes. For us being able to do this project today is to try give them as much hope as we can that there is still someone who cares for them and know that they’re hurting, because keeping their minds occupied helps them maybe for a moment not think about what tomorrow holds, making friends today and at least put a smile on their face so they may have a day or few hours they don’t have to worry about anything.

Most of them don’t have a family here, all they have is friends, and for some today is that chance for them to have friends they can do life with. They also live alone and for most their parents are no more and some don’t even have contact with their families and all they can think of is them and their status.

This young player joins more than 70 others each week at the Football United session in Croydon with Hillsong Church and the Refugee Council. Find out more about the session here: https://hillsong.com/uk/bwc/refugee-response/football-united/

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