A group of young volunteers from Palace for Life’s Get Involved programme have raised over £2,000 for the Shahid Afridi Foundation, an organisation supporting those affected by the devastating floods in Pakistan.

Over the last few weeks, 14 young volunteers from Palace for Life’s Get Involved programme have been organising a football tournament to fundraise for families affected by the devastating effects of the floods in Pakistan.

As reported by UNICEF, in June of this year a torrential monsoon triggered the most severe flooding in Pakistan’s recent history, leaving hundreds of thousands of homes, public health services, water systems, and schools severely damaged or destroyed. The devastation has meant almost 10 million children are in need of immediate lifesaving support and by September 2022, over 1,500 had died, and another 12,850 were left injured – as of October, it has been reported that 33 million people have been affected by the disaster.

More extreme weather events are occurring on a global scale and the unprecedented floods in Pakistan point to the fingerprints of climate change, as the country’s monsoon rains lasted for twice as long as normal and were nearly three times higher than the 30-year average.

Many of the young Get Involved participants are of Pakistani heritage and so naturally, wanted to do something to help – and being volunteers for Crystal Palace’s official charity, it wasn’t long before the idea of a football tournament, hosted at the club’s state-of-the-art Academy in Beckenham, was suggested.

Palace for Life’s Get Involved programme gives opportunities for young people and adults from the Asian and Muslim community to participate in football within Croydon and the surrounding areas and increase cohesion with other communities through joint activities.

The group got together at Selhurst Park to organise the logistics of the tournament, aiming for a total of 16 teams to take part. Throughout their planning sessions, the volunteers split the load; some took on the responsibility of getting in touch with local mosques and other grassroots teams to recruit players, and others took on the role of researching charities and tournament logistics. The tournament set-up was a huge part of the planning, with the schedule and format both being considered, especially as they were planning for over 150 players. Every volunteer did their bit, using their network and connections to get as much of the community involved in the event as possible.

Hazmi Bahrin, who runs the Get Involved programme, said:

“The volunteers have done an absolutely fantastic job, and it’s a great experience for them to come and organise such a large event and to raise money for the Pakistan floods. Not only is it a really good experience, but they’re also getting something really fantastic out of it that they can be proud of”

Abdullah, who began as a Get Involved participant and is now a coach was over the moon with how the tournament went:

“I’ve loved this event, it’s the first one I’ve ever done and hopefully we get to do more. Today we raised over £2,000 and hopefully we get to carry on more events with future volunteers.”

After a challenging planning process, the tournament was a huge success. The south London volunteers reached their 16-team target, meaning they had over 150 players playing in the Academy’s dome and in the process raised over £2,235 for the Shahid Afridi Foundation, by asking for paid entry into the tournament.

Saima Khan, Executive Director at the Shahid Afridi Foundation said:

“Shahid Afridi Foundation are delighted to have had the opportunity to collaborate with Palace for Life to raise funds for the Pakistan Floods. It’s always incredible seeing the youth drive projects, and the football tournament that was organised to benefit those affected by the floods has been nothing short of remarkable. Shahid Afridi Foundation has been on the ground, providing emergency relief and is now looking to help rehabilitate and re-home those that have lost their livelihood, home and belongings.

It’s important for communities to come together during these times of adversity to help make a difference, and we feel honoured to have the support of Palace for Life with this project.”

The Shahid Afridi Foundation is a non-profit in Pakistan that aims to improve the conditions of underprivileged communities in terms of Education, Healthcare Services, Access to Water, Sports Rehabilitation and Emergency Relief Response. The non-profit has been on the ground in Pakistan since day one, providing emergency aid and are now looking to help rebuild the lives of families affected.

Saima Mohsin, who is a  news reporter at Sky News who was on the ground in Pakistan when the disaster struck, attended the event – she said:

“I’m a lifelong Crystal Palace fan and a huge supporter of the Palace for Life Foundation. I love what they do, I’ve worked with young people in our area because I come from this area. I’m a born and bred in south London girl.

I’m so happy to see how many people have turned up here, we were talking about if we could get 16 teams together, and 16 teams have come! Up until last night, I’ve had people messaging me asking if they can bring their team. People really want to help and what’s really pleased me is that this is not just people who are of Pakistani heritage, this is people who are from south London, from the academy, from the Palace for Life Foundation – all getting together regardless of their heritage trying to do something good and help people who are miles away.”

Palace for Life would like to extend a big thank you to all of the Get Involved volunteers who helped to organise this event, to the Shahid Afridi Foundation, Saima Khan and Saima Mohsin for their support.

A huge congratulations also goes to Hazard FC, who were crowned winners of the tournament.

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