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Refugee World Cup

June 16, 2010

Soccer Competition
Forges Common Bond

International Rescue Committee

While the attention of millions around the world is focused on the 2010 FIFA World Cup games in South Africa, a just-completed competition closer to home sheds a different light on the theme of international cooperation. Reporting on the Fanhouse website, Nancy Gay writes: “You won’t see Bhutan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq or Myanmar among the 32 teams competing in South Africa. But for two days, the San Francisco Bay Area Refugee World Cup bound these refugees and asylees who fled war and persecution in their homelands with a universal pastime.”
          Gay quotes Iraqi refugee Ali Kareem, who suffered multiple fractures and burns from a sidewalk bomb in Iraq, and still has a 1-inch piece of shrapnel lodged in his neck: “Wherever you are in the world, no matter how poor or troubled you are, there is always soccer. You can play it anywhere and we love it…Soccer gives us something in common. We all want to win, but mostly we just want to play.”
          Co-sponsored by the International Rescue Committee and Soccer Without Borders, the two-day Refugee World Cup, held in one of Oakland’s poorest neighborhoods, featured more than 80 players from all of the above countries. So many turned out from Burma (Myanmar) that they were split into three teams representing different language groups. One of them, the Kaw Thoo Lei team, defeated Bhutanese Union for the championship.

Solidarity Games
Planned for Boston

Meanwhile, back here in Boston, another match is planned for Saturday, June 19, 2010 (4:00 PM), on the Boston Common, in front of the Massachusetts State House. “Soccer for Justice” is being held in solidarity with Massachusetts’ Student Immigrant Movement  and Mass Hope 2010, who are holding a vigil to oppose an Arizona-like bill currently before the State Senate.
          All ages and skill levels are welcome to join one of the two teams: “The Internationals” (friends of the Student Immigrant Movement) and “Malos pero Orgullosos” (“Lousy but Proud”) representing the Boston Interpreters Collective. 

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