Two teams made up of migrants and refugees from the Sussex region in the UK, played a friendly football match against each other for the first time at Falmer Sports Complex on July 25th 2021. The match between Brighton based Manor FC and Nations United from Chichester, was considered a great success.
This was Manor’s first ever outing after nearly two years of training and preparation as part of a funded project for VYD CIC whereas Nations United, who were born out of Sanctuary Chichester have played a handful of games previously. Played out in searing 28 degree heat, the match was played over 3 periods of 30 minutes, with the first two periods being evenly contested before Nations United ran away with the game as tiredness and inexperience crept into Manor’s play. The final score was 6-2 to Nations United, but the scoreline was secondary to the success of the event.

Refugee football match

After the recent hate-filled fall out following England’s defeat in the Euro Championship final, it was refreshing and uplifting to see two teams wanting to restate the power that the beautiful game can still have to help drive integration and overcome prejudice and discrimination. Players within the teams have found community through football and there’s a drive to recruit and include new players through the association between VYD and Sanctuary. There is a return game being lined up for August and more being planned with other migrant and refugee teams.

Refugee football team

Ben Monro, project manager for the Manor team said: “We didn’t get the result we wanted today, but that is secondary. We have started on a journey with the group that will lead onto more training, matches and integration and some have even joined VYD’s coaching mentoring project Life Goals, which is amazing. We also have plans for a small group to start learning design skills as they get to create their new identity and kit design, so we’re planning much more than just playing football – powerful as that is.”

Refugee football match

Duncan Barratt from Sanctuary, said: All of our guys thoroughly enjoyed the day. It would be great to do it again. It was powerful and pleasing to see the two teams play against each other – in fact, some already knew each other from the West Sussex network. We can’t wait to do it again soon.”