The 6th Justice First International Football Tournament was hosted last Saturday. 20 teams played, including an all-woman team, the Warriors FC. The same two teams as last year reached the final. But this year Justice United beat Cleveland Police, 2:0. Both teams are pretty well matched and we can see this rivalry as a regular theme! Justice United is coached by John Yarro, a Cameroonian refugee who set the team up in order to provide a sporting activity for young men seeking asylum. The team is now well established in the Teesside League and attracts players from a number of countries from across the community.
We also now call the winners’ cup ‘The Ali Brownlee Trophy’, in memory of our dear friend who was very supportive of the work Justice First does. We were particularly pleased that Ali’s wife, Wendy and their daughter Emily were able to join us and present the cup to Justice United.
The John and Jamie Owens Fair Play trophy was won by The Young Lions, a team of young Teessiders who have played at all six tournaments, and even though many of them are now at universities across the UK, they came back specifically to play at our event. Many thanks to the Owens family, particularly John and Craig for their unstinting support.
Teesside University again this year filmed the event and interviewed many people about the day and what it meant to them. Thanks to Mark, Jack and Sam. There will be a link on our website to the finished film, which will be ready for Refugee Week (19th – 25th June).
Thanks to our ever so supportive Police and Crime Commissioner, Barry Coppinger, for financial support for the event, but more importantly for turning up to support us as he has for the past few years. This year Barry had to leave early as he was climbing Roseberry Topping to mark IDAHO day – another good cause to support. http://dayagainsthomophobia.org/
Also thanks to the British Red Cross for their financial and practical help again this year – a constant companion in our work, and for Tresor Bukasa who was the originator of the tournament and the main organiser each year.
Thanks to Doctor Will for running the first aid tent again: only two minor injuries this year. The delicious international food was provided by The Other Perspective CIC, and the fabulous Polish apple cake by JF student social worker, Aga.
Huge thanks to Curtis Fleming, QPR coach and Boro ‘legend’, for ensuring everything went smoothly and for keeping good order as he does every year, and reminding everyone that it was about having fun (with a tinge of wanting to win!). Thanks also to the referees – not an easy role to play – and to Goals Soccer Centre staff for their support and for handling the fixtures listing. They are also offering half price pitch hire to any refugee/asylum seeking teams for the rest of the year: please promote this.
And finally, a great big thank you to all the teams for registering and playing in such a friendly manner and in the true spirit of sport.
Report by Pete Widlinski – ©Justice First