For many, football is like religion. The game has the incomparable ability to build communities of loyal and passionate fan-bases that stick together through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Football inspires hope, but it also demands perseverance from all involved.
Over the last year, Blue Shoes Productions has borne witness to the conception of a refugee football team known as Freedom Matters Football Club. The team has attracted refugees and asylum seekers that hail from all over the globe, and it was created with the sole purpose of giving the participants an opportunity to build their own micro-community to play football in a relaxed and friendly environment.
Freedom Matters F.C. is a joint partnership between the Gaskell Garden Project and The University of Manchester
Since October, members of Freedom Matters F.C. have gathered together to set aside their daily troubles for the opportunity to play football alongside their friends and acquaintances. Many of the participants have experienced appalling sights and horrendous conditions which led to their desperate flight to the UK, and the sessions have provided them with small respites from the memories of hardship that they left behind.
In a society that often looks unfavourably on refugees and asylum seekers, it has been important for the participants to enjoy themselves in a communal atmosphere with fellow refugees and student volunteers. Many participants continue to find themselves in difficult situations as they navigate through uncertainty and insecurity, but they always arrive upbeat and excited to get stuck into a session.
The inaugural year of the project might be coming to its climax, but the refugees and asylum seekers are already looking forward to next year as they plan to form a competitive team to enter into a local league. It is our hope that the success of this project will continue for many years and Freedom Matters F.C. go onto recruit many more players as they look to build up their own footballing community for refugees in Manchester.
Refugees from all across the globe take part alongside university students to facilitate integration in the community
Over the coming weeks, the Gaskell Garden Project is hosting an assortment of events to raise money for their social integration projects, so make sure to check them out!
Freedom Matters: The Welcome Party at Niamos, (01/06/2019 3pm-2am)
Performance Art Walk at Moses Gate, Salford (03/06/2019)
GGP Permaculture Café Pay-As-You-Feel meal at the Old Abbey Taphouse, (Sundays 4pm-7pm)