On Saturday 21st May, the Berks and Bucks Football Association, Care4Calais, Reading FC Community Trust, Reading Muslim, Reading Reaching Out and the Reading Refugee Support Group came together to host a Football Festival for Asylum Seekers and Refugees who are currently living in the Reading area.
Football is a brilliant tool for connecting communities and welcoming people to a new place and the day saw over 40 male participants take part in a 5-a-side tournament at the Reading FC Community Trust ground. The event was a great success, and everyone left smiling.
The event ended with lunch being provided for the participants and volunteers which offered an opportunity to connect off the pitch and share stories. Thank you to Share Wokingham and Ateeq from Slamburger Reading for donating food for the event, it was greatly appreciated and enjoyed.
The biggest barrier that had to be overcome was transportation and we thank the volunteers who gave up their time to transport the groups to and from various locations across Reading. Thank you to Nigel Rattue from Wokingham Baptist Church for their support.
Following the event, one of the participants said; “I appreciate every one of your efforts that contributed towards the success of today's tournament.
“Thanks for putting a lot of extra time and dedication towards us. You are doing a fantastic job of keeping all of us moving. A big thanks to you all for a job well-done!!!! And may the Lord God bless you all👏 🙏 AMEN”
Another participant reflected on the event and said, “💯 we had a nice day 😊 and enjoyed our time with other teams and we had the good result 😀.”
A massive thank you to all the volunteers who helped make the day a huge success.
The next challenge comes in determining how to make football a sustainable activity for the group, to ensure this is not just a one-off event. Now that it is the end of the season, we are running a drive for football kits (shirts, shorts and socks), football boots (plastic and metal) and any trainers that are no longer needed and can be given to a new appreciative new home. We welcome donations of all sizes (youth and adult). We are running this initial drive until the end of June and using our office as the drop off location.
If you have any kit or footwear you are able to donate or would like to support this and future events across the region, please reach out to Emma O'Hara, Community & Inclusion Officer, for Berks & Bucks FA via Development@Berks-BucksFA.com.