After last year’s successful encounters between VYD’s refugee and asylum seeker team, Away From Home and London’s FC Hope, another eagerly anticipated match was arranged between the two sides at Falmer Sports Complex on 15/7/23.

But this was more than just a football match. This was a coming together of like-minded organisations who share the same values and want to create opportunities and integration for their friends and colleagues; for displaced people who are looking to build their lives in a new country.

The FC Hope team has been nurtured and built by the brilliant, New Horizons Youth Centre, in London, whilst VYD’s Away From Home team has been developed over the years from our regular weekly football (and sometimes ESOL) sessions in Brighton.

A severe weather warning and a mix-up with the booking didn’t get things off to a good start, but these are small hurdles to overcome in the wider scheme of things… Initially, both teams were placed on a pitch fit for a 7v7 not an 11v11 match and the players made their feelings known, but gamely got on with warming up whilst we tried to find a solution that would work for everyone. Eventually, an alternative pitch was sourced – and what a pitch! Pitch 2, where Brighton used to train in the Gus Poyet years! Lush!

The location couldn’t have been better. Surrounded by trees and slightly sheltered from the wind we were free to exist in our own, small world for a very pleasant two hours or so. We were joined by Jacob Berkson, Jollof Cafe, and other welcome supporters from Brighton and Hove Migrant Support, who got a warm welcome from the players.

The match was an entertaining encounter with FC Hope moving into a deserved 3-0 lead before being clawed back to 3-3 by a resurgent Away From Home team later in the game, with Mehran, Zana, and Jonatan scoring the goals. The game then went to penalties with Zana scoring the winning goal. A shout-out too for Daniel for a superb penalty save to help the team ‘win’ the game but, in reality, friendship and unity were the winners – as cheesy as that may sound! And a special thanks to Bradlee for refereeing – never an easy task!

Food was provided by the ever-amazing East Brighton Food Co-op who had the challenge of trying to find our hidden spot, with the much coveted ‘ice melon’, sandwiches, and drinks helping players and fans to recover their energy.

Simon Stevens, Youth Worker, New Horizons Youth Centre, the driving force behind FC Hope, said:

“FC Hope is now 2 years in the making, starting out as a kickabout on Thursday evenings with 10 young people aged between 18-25 who have experienced homelessness and attend New Horizon Youth Centre in Camden. FC Hope now has a regular attendance of 25 – 30 young people including young women (we are starting Faith United FC women’s team in September), there is also a large number of refugees and asylum seekers who regularly attend; some of whom are living on £8 a week and placed in hotels awaiting decisions on their future status in the U.K. Working with Gary and the VYD team has been very positive and we will be looking forward to welcoming Away From Home FC to London in the autumn.”

Felix Haxby, the brilliant manager, and coach of the VYD Away From Home team, has dedicated hours to get the group playing together on the pitch but has also invested time to get to know them socially too. He’s seen them grow in stature and confidence, and he asked some of the players for their thoughts on the match – what we got back was quite inspiring…

“I am an asylum seeker and I am 46 years old. I want to write about the love of football and its effect on my physical and mental health. First of all, I am grateful for the efforts of our refugee supporters. Football training has made my mental problems less and it is very effective in improving my English and it is also a great environment to make good friends with all nationalities. Although I am middle-aged, playing football with young people gives me self-confidence and makes me feel young.”


“8 days ago I moved to London and Felix contacted me to ask if I wanted to travel to Brighton to play.  this was very good news for me because at that moment i was a bit sad to leave my friends behind.  The team with whom I have shared a lot of time playing, laughing, winning.  This type of activity makes us forget for a moment the bad things we have been through and why we are here as refugees.  I have returned to London with a fresh, motivated mind and with more desire to continue fighting, learning and helping others.  I had a great time with my friends from Brighton and London because on the pitch there are no colours, races, religions or anything that divides us, there are only friends and unforgettable good times.  Now I know I have family here.”


“I want to thank the team management, Gary, Fiona, Felix, David and all those who make up the team for making it work.

VYD team of refugees and asylum seekers thousands of thanks to everyone who makes it possible for everything to work as a team to my colleagues with whom I share unforgettable moments on the pitch, last Saturday we had an excellent game guys I am very proud because a year ago we have continued to maintain that passion for football that makes us free from stress and different cultures and unite for one goal which is to win.

If this good path that the team is taking I know that we can go further as people and as players to take and put the name of the team as a legend thank you very much for the opportunity.”


Lastly, thank you to Brighton & Hove Bus Company for providing free travel for the Away From Home team and to Simon Tunley and Sussex Sport for the free use of such an amazing facility.

We are always on the lookout for kit and boots for our Away From Home Team and if you want to financially support our work with refugees and asylum seekers, please contact Gary at