There aren’t too many articles on our website that include talk of civil wars and oppression. One such story involves just that with the development of a football club based in Reading with positive community engagement. The power of sport and football bringing
The Reading Refugee Support Group (RRSG) was formed in 1994 at a refugee conference organised in response to the civil wars and oppression in Kosovo, Somalia, Zimbabwe and Sudan and the large numbers of refugees coming to Reading, as a registered charity RRSG has been providing legal and practical advice and support for asylum seekers and refugees in Greater Reading for 20 years.
They work with refugees (who have acquired status in the UK) to support their integration into local communities e.g. through English language courses, projects in schools and other activities. Refugees and asylum seekers endure terrifying and unimaginable experiences arriving in this country having fled persecution, torture, war, sexual abuse and famine.
Their mission is simple: to improve the lives of those that end up in the Reading area by providing support and advice and helping them to navigate through layers of bureaucracy which may be alien to them. Promoting inclusion, integration, awareness dignity, respect and understanding are key aspects of our work.
Sanctuary Strikers Football Club
In the spring of 2017 a former client and volunteer at RRSG decided to establish a football team with the support of the charity. Sanctuary Strikers FC is a football team to encourage refugees, asylum seekers and others to integrate together in the spirit of hope, it follows from an informal weekly practice which had been taking place over the previous two years involving former clients of the charity who had met through the various social gatherings and support services offered.
The step to establish a fully registered team to play in the Reading and District Sunday league was ambitious and has involved significant effort by a number of volunteers. The cost of establishing the team including registration fees, insurance premiums, kit and equipment was supported by Football Association ‘Grow the Game Foundation’, local churches, mosques and other faith groups.
A training sessions at Sanctuary Strikers FC
Expectations in terms of bringing together young players from numerous religions and countries of origin in a spirit of fun and mutual respect.
If you have a story to share on the power of football and how it can connect people and change through engaging communities then please get in touch with Simon Wears, Football Development Manager via Development@Berks-BucksFA.com