Queens Cross Housing Association football tournament welcomes refugees
Over 100 football fans came together for a community football tournament to welcome refugees and asylum seekers to Glasgow.
Led by Richard Allwood, head of supported housing at Queens Cross Housing Association, The Welcome Cup tournament was the culmination of eight weeks of training for the Maryhill Integration Network Men’s Group, a group of refugees and asylum seekers in Glasgow.
Nine teams, made up of players from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran and Kurdistan, Queens Cross youth homelessness service users, Queens Cross staff and staff from other local charities took part in the tournament. ‘Team Queens Cross’ were crowned the winners, with the ‘Harry Rags’ coming in a close second.
Richard Allwood had the idea for the tournament after visiting the Maryhill Integration Network to give the Men’s Group more information on the role of Queens Cross in the community.
He said: “When I mentioned football to the Men’s Group, the whole room erupted. They told me how much they loved the game and how keen they were to play. I also learned that some were destitute so didn’t have any kit or boots.
“I approached Partick Thistle Community Trust who responded with an extremely generous donation of kit, as well as eight sessions at Firhill Sports Complex with two coaches, who were fantastic in teaching the group new skills.
“The Maryhill Integration Network Men’s Group aims to support integration in Glasgow, providing a welcoming space for men from different backgrounds to develop skills and meet people, supporting them to begin new lives in Glasgow.
“The training and the tournament has been a brilliant way of doing that, with people from all walks of life playing together and supporting each other.
“It’s been a really great to cross language and cultural barriers, and help the group get to know our vibrant community.”
Tomas, 25, arrived in Glasgow 9 months ago, after fleeing religious persecution and fighting in Eritrea. He hopes to go on to use the skills he’s learned in training to help him into a career in physics and maths.
He said: “I arrived in Glasgow totally alone, without family or friends. I heard about the Maryhill Integration Network Men’s Group and since then have taken part in a number of activities, including the football training and tournament.
“I’ve been really happy since joining the football training course. It’s been a great way to meet new people, make friends, improve my English and learn about this country.
“I hope we can continue to play after the tournament.”
Paul Kelly, managing director, Partick Thistle Community Trust, said: “When we heard about the training and tournament we wanted to help in any way we could.
“Sport is a fantastic way to help people come together, and Partick Thistle Community Trust are delighted to be a part of that.”