A national football festival will show how football can be used to reach out to some of the most marginalised groups in the UK later this month.
The Unity Cup will bring together teams of asylum seekers and refugees from across the country to Manchester in the largest sporting gathering of refugees and Asylum seekers in Europe for a weekend of sport, music and entertainment. Participants will be offered the opportunity to share their experiences and relate to each other through football.
Players from Manchester United, Manchester City and Bolton Wanderers are expected to attend the festival this year.
The weekend will feature 20 teams of refugees and Asylum seekers based in Birmingham, Cardiff, Dover, Exeter, Glasgow, Huddersfield, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, London, Newcastle, Norwich, Sheffield, Southampton, Sunderland and the host city Manchester.
As part of the activities, participants will be given advice on asylum rights, how to participate in mainstream footballing activities, to include developing links with their local professional clubs and County FA’s.
The Unity Cup Festival will be played over the weekend of the 17th and 18th July at the Armitage Centre in central Manchester.
Michel Boumsong, a member of the winning team in 2003, Le Camer from Newcastle, offered his thoughts at the end of last year’s Unity Cup Festival,
“These are difficult times for those of us labelled as asylum seekers and refugees. It is important we stand strong against the negative images of us, and the treatment we are subjected to by many. We all face problems each day, with jobs, money, and other worries. Football is one of the thing brings us together and allows us to be one.”