Rovers is joining football clubs across the country this weekend (27-28 April) to celebrate the contribution refugee players make to the game, as part of Amnesty International’s Football Welcomes campaign.
irFootball Welcomes, now in its third year, highlights the role of refugee players in UK football. From a group of children fleeing the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s who went on to become some of the first refugees to play professionally here, to the likes of former Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba, ex-Manchester City forward Nadia Nadim, Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka, Dejan Lovren at Liverpool and Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke, players with a refugee background have been making their mark on the game for decades.
Backed by the EFL a number of Premier League clubs, the FA Women’s Super League, the FA Women’s National League and grassroots and non-league teams across the country, Football Welcomes also aims to highlight the important role football clubs can play in welcoming refugees and people seeking asylum into their local communities, and in helping them to settle in to a new country and culture.
With this in mind, Club Doncaster Foundation have been breaking down barriers which may prevent asylum seekers and refugees in Doncaster from participating in sport by providing opportunities for weekly football training session and the team’s involvement in an evening football league.
The Foundation have also been promoting their well-loved bike library to local refugees. The ability to borrow and use a bike can open up a city, allow refugees to get to college or work and allow asylum seekers to stay healthy.
Rovers joined up with the Foundation and the Viking Supporters Co-operative to organise a football match between supporters, refugees and Fit Rovers vets at the Keepmoat Stadium. This match also launched the Rovers boot drive which has been a joint effort between Fit Rovers, supporters and staff to donate boots to the football team.
Naomi Westland, Football Welcomes manager at Amnesty International UK, said: “We are delighted that Doncaster Rovers is taking part in Football Welcomes. Football clubs are at the heart of their communities and it’s great to see teams across the UK using the international language of football to create connection, respect and friendship across cultures. With so many people across the globe forced to abandon their homes due to conflict and instability, it’s important that football clubs use their platform to send out a clear message: refugees are welcome here.”