Football’s power to affect change was rarely more evident in 2016 than at the Liberté Cup in Dunkirk, France back in September, and SD Europe was delighted to contribute in its own small way.
Hosted a stone’s throw away from La Liniere refugee camp – which housed over 800 men, women and children at the time – the tournament was organised by a host of organisations including Copa 90 and ITV Hub to highlight the plight of refugees across Europe and provide some light relief for those calling the camp their temporary home. A 30-minute documentary on the tournament is due to be released shortly.
Aiming to making a difference – and very much succeeding in their objective – were seven players from Hackney Wick FC, a community football club from north east London.
The group travelled by car and ferry to France on September 9th and 10th and having donned their Hackney Wick FC community kit, they headed straight to the refugee camp where they helped with a range of tasks – from chopping wood and cleaning pots to assisting with some of the other more physical work.
The following morning the team-mates were among eight teams to line out in the 7-a-side football tournament. Players were mixed around between teams, with the Hackney Wick lads praised for their football skill, inclusive attitude and positivity throughout the games. The club had players involved in three of the four semi finals, with the winning penalty in the final scored by a HWFC man.
SD Europe contributed to the cost of travel for the club, and team captain Jayden Brown said:
“Thank you SD Europe! Without your support we would have not been able to travel to France to play in the tournament or visit the refugee camp. It was a very important trip for us, both as a team and as individuals. I think many of us now better understand how football can unite people.”
Those behind Hackney Wick FC say community work is central to their existence and that there was no better way to learn the ways in which football can be used to improve the lives of others. The Wickers now plan to build on newly cemented ties with Sheffield FURD (Football Unites, Racism Divides) and to host a its own refugee tournament in the UK in the future.
For further information, visit https://www.facebook.com/thelibertecup