President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins kicks off UNHCR/SARI's 7th annual Fair Play Football Cup
On 19 June, UNHCR Ireland and Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI) hosted the 7th annual Fair Play Football Cup at the Law Society Gardens in Dublin. 20 men’s and women’s teams participated in the tournament, which is organised every year to mark World Refugee day in a bid to acknowledge and salute the strength and resilience of refugees worldwide.
The 7-a-side tournament featured teams drawn from refugee groups, direct provision centres, NGO’s and members of the media. The players hailed from a range of countries including Myanmar, Vietnam, South Sudan, Nigeria, Brazil and the DRC. This year saw some exciting new additions to both the men’s and women’s tournaments in the form of One Direction, Brazil United FC, Westbourne Limerick, Vietnamese Students and Exchange House Ireland.
Free entertainment such as face painting, music and a children’s circus skills workshop was also provided at the event which saw over 500 people in attendance.
“The Fair Play Football Cup is a great way for people and communities to come together from all over the world, whether they are former Irish internationals or refugees who have come here seeking protection” said Enda O’Neill, Head of Office with UNHCR Ireland. “With a record number of people around the world forced to flee their homes because of war, conflict and persecution, this is an opportunity to step back and see refugees as ordinary people who want to do the same things as everyone else.”
The President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins attended this year’s event, where he met with the teams and mingled with attendees before moving down to the football pitches to watch a game.
This year saw a particularly exciting set of finals, with Mosney beating Westbourne Limerick and One Direction losing out to Brazil United FC on a nail-biting penalty shootout. The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Críona Ní Dhálaigh, attended both finals and later presented the winning teams and runners-up with medals and the Fair Play Cup.