One week after the biggest gathering of world football a national festival will revive the hopes of footballing success for refugee players from more than 40 countries.
The Unity Cup Festival, organised by UK FARE partners Kick It Out, in conjunction with Football Unites, Racism Divides,/i> will feature 20 teams of refugees and asylum-seekers from across the UK.
The Festival will be officially opened by UK Sports Minister, Richard Caborn MP, and the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Jackie Drayton, at a free public event in the city centre with the help of Sheffield United stars, Leigh Bromby and Paul Ifill.
As part of the activities, participants will be given advice on how they can participate in mainstream football, develop links with local professional clubs and County FAs. Information will also be available on asylum rights and how to contact organisations working to support displaced communities.
The tournament will be played over the weekend (15th / 16th July 2006) at the Sheffield United FC Academy, with a presentation ceremony taking place at 3.30pm on the Sunday.
Piara Powar, Director of FARE partner, Kick It Out, said,
“The Unity Cup Festival is about much more than a football tournament, it is about bringing some of the most marginalized communities together through football.”
Over the weekend teams will receive information on how to join FA affiliated leagues and learn how to unlock funding to assist them in developing football within their communities.
Jackie Drayton, Lord Mayor of Sheffield, welcomed the teams,
“I am pleased to welcome the Unity Cup Festival to the city on behalf of the people of Sheffield. Displaced communities have made a significant contribution to Sheffield, and it is important to acknowledge that contribution. The Unity Cup Festival allows us to do that and bring communities together.”
The Unity Cup Festival has been organised in partnership with the Football Unites, Racism Divides project, and is supported by Sheffield City Council, Sheffield County FA and Amicus trade union.