Taking place every Saturday, the session will give football opportunities to local refugees who may have had to flee conflict and persecution, and are now attempting to rebuild their lives in a new country.
Aiming to help individuals settle in the community, the sessions will offer support and structure to their lives, especially important after a potentially traumatic and unsettling journey to the UK.
However, there are several barriers that could prevent those who need these sessions the most from attending. Female refugees experience multiple barriers to taking part in exercise and some of the most notable of these are a lack of appropriate clothing and sanitary products.
Crystal Palace F.C. are backing the new project and are calling for supporters to donate sportswear (t-shirts, socks, trousers, shorts, sports bras), trainers/astroturf boots, or sanitary products to assist some of the needs of those attending.
Items donated will be collected and redistributed to those who need them the most. Fans can donate these items at the donation point at Selhurst Park stadium reception, Monday–Friday, 10am-4pm.
Running at Heavers Farm Primary School, the sessions will create a safe space for local refugee women to socialise and get active. They will help the women learn English and improve their mental wellbeing through combatting social isolation and encouraging integration.
Roxanne Bennett, Palace for Life Community Sports Manager and Women and Girl’s Lead, said: “Our new sessions will be running weekly for females aged 16-18 years and for Women 18-years and over. It’s a great opportunity to work in partnership with Surrey FA and Amnesty UK to support local refugee women, providing a safe space to socialise and exercise.”
Emma Barnes, Football Development Manager at Surrey Football Association said: “It is great to be working in partnership with Palace for Life on this fantastic initiative where we hope to give football opportunities to women from refugee backgrounds in Croydon.
“The opportunities offered will be varied and may initially start as a chance to socialise and then get a taste of playing the game. The women’s recreational game has grown over recent years and it is important to us that women from all backgrounds have the chance to access it’’
The new Women’s Refugee Football Session has been created off of the back of Amnesty UK’s Football Welcomes month, where nationwide throughout April, clubs welcomed refugees and people seeking asylum.
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.
The Women and Girls Refugee Football Sessions will start on Saturday 1st May, 2021 at Heavers Farm School, SE25 6LT.
They will split in age groups for 16-18-year-olds and 18-years+, and will run from 11:30am-1:00pm.
For more information about the sessions or donating items, please contact Roxanne Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org