Oldham Athletic is joining football clubs across the country in April to welcome refugees and people seeking asylum, as part of Amnesty International’s Football Welcomes campaign.
Now in its fifth year, Football Welcomes celebrates the contribution players from a refugee background make to the game and highlights the role football can play in bringing people together and creating more welcoming communities for refugees.
Football Welcomes this year coincides with the return of grassroots sport as lockdown rules ease, which provides a much-needed opportunity for people to reconnect with each other and their communities and to improve mental and physical health.
To mark the month, which is supported by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, Oldham Athletic Community Trust is working with Oldham Bethel Church to deliver the 'Community Football Project'.
As part of the project, Latics' Youth Team Manager Selim Benachour held an online visit with some of the participants. Having represented his country, Tunisia at major tournaments such as the World Cup and African Cup of Nations, he was an inspiration to the particpants involved as well as being able to relate to them talking about adapting to living in a new country.
Martin Vose, OACT Head of Community, commented: "We are delighted to be supporting the Football Welcomes initiative. Football is a universal game which brings together people of all backgrounds through a shared love of the game. As a football club, and a trust, it is imperative that we do all that we can to support everyone within our community to the engage with the beautiful game."
Naomi Westland, at Amnesty International UK, said: "With the long-awaited return of outdoor activities, we ar e excited to see the commitment from the footballing community to come together and welcome refugees.
"Clubs like Oldham Athletic are at the heart of their communities and football can be a powerful force for good, bringing people together and providing a sense of purpose and belonging. For those who've fled conflict and persecution and had to leave everything behind, this is incredibly important.
"It's heartening to see football clubs across the country doing great work in their communities to show there is more that unites us than divides us."