We are joining football clubs across the country this month to welcome refugees and people seeking asylum, as part of Amnesty International’s Football Welcomes campaign.
Now in its fifth year, Football Welcomes celebrates the contribution players from a refugee background make to the game, and highlights the role football can play in bringing people together and creating more welcoming communities for refugees.
Football Welcomes this year coincides with the return of grassroots sport as lockdown rules ease, which provides a much-needed opportunity for people to reconnect with each other and their communities and to improve mental and physical health.
Brentford is one of many clubs from across the Premier League, English Football League, FA Women’s Super League, Championship and National League, Cymru North and South, and grassroots teams that have signed up to take part in Football Welcomes.
Some will organise a training session, a match or Soccercise classes for refugees, some will incorporate learning about refugee rights into their work in schools, while others will have First Team players warming up in Football Welcomes t-shirts and help to raise awareness online.
Jon Burr, Community Manager at Brentford, said: “Brentford Community Sports Trust engage with lots of young people who have refugee status. The Trust deliver educational workshops that give participants the opportunity to gain qualifications, as well as plenty of fun and engaging sport and fitness sessions.
“We have families and individuals coming to this country to flee persecution or warzones, and this campaign is aimed at showing how people from a refugee background can integrate into communities through the power of sport. Football can break language barriers, create a greater cultural understanding and help forge lifelong friendships.”
Naomi Westland, Movement Building Manager at Amnesty International UK, added: “With the long-awaited return of outdoor activities, we are excited to see the commitment from the footballing community to come together and welcome refugees.
“Clubs like Brentford are at the heart of their communities and football can be powerful force for good, bringing people together and a providing a sense of purpose and belonging. For those who’ve fled conflict and persecution and had to leave everything behind, this is incredibly important.
“It’s heartening to see football clubs across the country doing great work in their communities to show there is more that unites us than divides us.”
To find out more about Amnesty’s Football Welcomes month, click here.