Refugee footballers representing seven different football clubs took part in Burnley FC in the Community’s Clarets Welcome Football Tournament at The Leisure Box in Brierfield.
In the first event of its kind, Burnley FC in the Community welcomed over 80 refugee participants from community trusts including the Liverpool Foundation, Everton in the Community and Derby County Community Trust to take part in the tournament which took place on the centre’s indoor 4G pitch last week.
Playing 12-minute matches, teams battled it out over course of the day on Friday before a tense penalty shootout decided eventual tournament winners, the Liverpool Foundation.
Burnley FC in the Community was represented by players from the charity’s Clarets Welcome project, which has now been supporting Syrian refugee families on a weekly basis for over 12 months.
The project, like many others delivered by football clubs, uses the universal language of football to offer physical activity opportunities and the chance to develop new community connections for newly settled families.
Michael Colquhoun, Head of Inclusion at Burnley FC in the Community said: “With clubs across the country delivering similar projects, the opportunity presented itself to bring together the football family for this special event.
“Many of the participants we have welcomed here today have endured major turmoil in their lives. Through our football clubs, we can offer respite, fun and friendship – football has the unique ability to do that.
“I thank all my counterparts at the other football clubs who helped make this happen. I hope it’s the start of many more events like this.”
An extra special spectator also came to the check out the competition as hometown hero and Clarets striker Jay Rodriguez paid a visit to the Leisure Box during the event.
Jay met many of the participants between games, stopped for plenty of photos and stayed to watch the feisty final game.
Burnley-born Rodriguez said: “This is such a brilliant event and it’s been interesting to learn more about the work that’s going on.
“I’ve really enjoyed watching the games and I’ve seen some fantastic football being played!”
Burnley FC in the Community would like to thank the following community trusts who took part in the tournament, many travelling significant distances to be part of the event: AFC Fylde Foundation, Derby County Community Trust, Club Doncaster Foundation, Everton in the Community, Liverpool Foundation and the Tigers Trust.
For further information on the Clarets Welcome project, please contact Michael Colquhoun on firstname.lastname@example.org.