Keele hosts second annual football tournament for refugees
- Teams from across Staffordshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire have taken part in a football tournament for refugees and asylum seekers at Keele University;
- The event was aimed at helping refugees integrate in their new communities and breaking aspiration barriers;
- Players also attended sessions and activities with university staff that highlighted access and progressions into apprenticeships, foundation studies and higher education.
Using football as a universal language
A football tournament for refugees and asylum seekers returned to Keele’s campus today - double the size of last year's debut event.
Using football as a universal language, the tournament, which included 16 teams from Stoke-on-Trent, Crewe, Cannock, Stafford, Tamworth, Burton-upon-Trent and Derby, saw around 160 players take part.
And off the pitch, participants were given the opportunity to attend sessions and engage in activities with university staff around access and progression into apprenticeships, foundation studies and higher education.
Encouraging community cohesion
The aim of the tournament was to promote an understanding among the local community of the plight of refugees and asylum seekers, encourage community cohesion, and overcome language barriers through sport, as well as helping refugees in the local area to integrate with their new community.
It also aimed to break down aspiration barriers among refugees and asylum seekers, many of whom wrongly believe that they have no access to higher education.
Tournament doubles in size
Russell Clark, Director of Keele Language Centre, who organised the event, said: "Last year was the first time we held the tournament and we had eight teams. This year we had double that number with teams coming to Keele from our local area and as far away as Derby and Cannock, which is fantastic.
"An event like this helps achieve a sense of integration among refugees and asylum seekers. It is a fantastic combination of healthy living, fun and education as it gives them insight into how they can develop the skills to get a good job and make a positive contribution to society."
The event was held in partnership with groups including Asha North Staffordshire, Sporting Communities, Cannock Chase Welcomes Refugees, Stafford Welcomes Refugees, Hope Centre, Newcastle College and Stoke-on-Trent College.
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