Comic Con Liverpool Countdown 🦹

Open search Close search

Close menu


Refugee football teams to face councillors and community in special matches to commemorate Refugee Week

10 months ago

Refugee football teams to face councillors and community in special matches to commemorate Refugee Week
Hope United will play during Refugee Week. Credit: LCRCA

The Team includes refugees from Sudan, Iran and El Salvador

Refugees and asylum seekers are set to play two special football matches against St Helens councillors and the community to mark Refugee Week.

Hope United, a men’s team formed from English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) students at St Helens College, will play a friendly match on Sunday, June 25.

At the same time, Comfort Angels, a team comprising woman refugees and asylum seekers from Liverpool, will play at the same venue.

In preparation, Hope United, which includes players from Iran, Sudan, Honduras, Senegal and El Salvador, have been taking part in weekly training sessions with St Helens Town AFC.

The training is part of the college curriculum and funded by Mayor Steve Rotheram’s pioneering Test and Learn approach to adult education, which provides support for innovative projects.

Organisers say the sessions have aided language development, integration and wellbeing of the players.

The matches are billed as a ‘Friendly Footy’ day of community and togetherness – and are part of the borough’s wider programme of events to mark Refugee Week.

Mike Bagshaw, community officer at St Helens Town AFC, said:

“It is a cheesy line, but they say football is the international language and that seems to be the case here. We hope they feel more welcome here, they are definitely welcome at St Helens Town AFC. Once people meet and talk to each other they become human – not just a news story – and most people are decent folk.

“We are hoping for a good turnout for the community game and a fun, family day with kids’ entertainment. A local café – Café Laziz – will be coming down with tasters and hopefully we will get the two communities together, mingling – because at the end of the day we are all just people.”

Following the devolution deal that saw the creation of the Metro Mayor role, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority took responsibility for the £53m Adult Education Budget for local residents aged 19 and over.

Using devolved powers, Mayor Rotheram set aside around £2m in funding each year for colleges and training providers to test and learn new innovative ways of teaching and learning as part of the devolved Adult Education Budget which helps meet local training needs.

The St Helens football sessions were created to improve students’ English language skills but also to help them integrate into their new home and learn about life in Britain.

Katie Balmer, ESOL tutor at St Helens College, said:

“The idea of the training sessions was to give the students something to do outside of the classroom – wraparound care really. The sessions have been fantastic – they leave so much on the playing field and their physical and mental wellbeing is taken care of.”

The men’s and women’s matches take place at Ruskin Sports Village on Sunday, June 25 at 3pm.

There will be rolling substitutions and people are welcome to come along and join in.

The matches are part of St Helens Borough’s wider Refugee Week events programme, held every year to highlight the contributions, creativity and resilience of displaced people.

This year it features a grand Communities Together event in St Helens town centre, showcasing art, music, dance, food, workshops and performances, organised by St Helens Borough Council’s Refugee Resettlement Service.

The Communities Together event will be held at Parish Church, Church Square from 11am-5pm on Saturday 24 June.

Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Portfolio Holder for Employment, Education and Skills, said:

“This event on Sunday is a great way to celebrate refugees and it is so important that we bring communities together to develop a shared understanding

“The Test and Learn initiative to help refugees improve their English and assimilate into life in Britain is a great example of how innovative approaches to funding education can deliver practical results and also spread social value across the region.”

For more info on Liverpool City Region Refugee Week click here.



The Guide Liverpool

About Us

We showcase the very best of Liverpool City Region through stunning video features and keep residents and visitors updated on what's on and what's good. About Us

The Guide Liverpool

Meet Our Team 👋

Meet Our Team
Eurovision 2023 - Jay And Gem - The Guide Liverpool Video Production

The Guide Liverpool

Video Production & Advertising

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse quis eros sit amet mi eleifend tincidunt. Services