To help celebrate World Refugee Day, which will take place on Thursday 20th June, the anti-racism organisation ’Football Unites Racism Divides’ (FURD) will hold a conference in Sheffield. The conference will also be used to present the findings and recommendations of a study conducted by FURD on the role of football in the lives of refugees and asylum seekers.
The event on the 20th June, called ‘Football: A Shared Sense of Belonging?’, is the culmination of a three year research project, funded by the Big Lottery programme, that examined the contribution of football, and sport in developing a sense of mutual belonging between asylum seekers, refugees and the communities in which they live.
To discuss the importance of sport in developing a sense of belonging, the conference will feature a panel of academics, including Kim Turcotter, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Dr Chris Stone from Football Unites Racism Divides. A number of refugees and asylum seekers will also speak at the event to present their own views and personal experiences of how sport has helped them integrate into their new community.
In 2012, as part of the project a 'Refugee Footballers in Britain' exhibition was developed featuring a number of footballers with refugee backgrounds, including players from the Spanish Civil War in the 1940s to more recent stars, such as Fabrice Muamba.
In addition to the exhibition, the research project developed a number of other activities including establishing a weekly meeting of the 'Belonging Group' in Sheffield which aimed to help integrate refugees and asylum seekers within their communities through football, music and dance.