On Friday, Northampton Town of Sanctuary and the University of Northampton Student Action for Refugees (UoN STAR) hosted the final event of their Refugee Week 2021 programme (rearranged from June) with a charity football match between L2L FC - a team of young refugees who attend the Learn2Live Youth Group - and a Northampton XI - a collective of amateur footballers who have played football at various standards in the town for up to 20 years.
The theme of this year's Refugee Week is 'We Cannot Walk Alone' and this match was to typify that spirit by welcoming the newly formed L2L FC into the sporting community that many of the Northampton XI players have been part of for a long period of time. Football's key principles are fairness, teamwork and a collective identity that transcends all other identifying factors, which is why this game is the ultimate celebration of this year's Refugee Week's theme and principles. https://refugeeweek.org.uk/theme-of-refugee-week-2021-we-cannot-walk-alone/
The Northampton Town Community Trust work in partnership with Learn2Live and Northamptonshire Sport via the 'Tackling Inequalities Fund' to provide coach Tom Sherratt to lead the football coaching sessions each Saturday at the University of Northampton Waterside Campus. Ciaran Dowling, who volunteers with the Learn2Live Youth Group and who played for the L2L FC team said: “Northampton Town FC Community Trust and Northamptonshire Sport have been central to the creation of L2L FC supporting the group with funding and providing them with coaching opportunities and improving their teamwork skills. The support of both the Northampton Town Community Trust and Northamptonshire Sport has been central to re-igniting engagement for many of the boys with their friends after they have spent a long period of time in social isolation owing to the COVID-19 pandemic."
Ciaran Dowling said: "Football is one thing that most of the boys have in common. They relish the competition of sports and for many of them it has been a great way to build relationships. Football has a universal appeal and the love of the game has been evident each week at our training sessions and we hope that this game is only the start of the adventure that L2L FC will go on.
Tom Sherratt, NTFC Community Trust community coach said, “I have really enjoyed coaching the Live2Learn refugee group over the last couple of months. Since my first session with the group, they have been continually committed and engaged to take part. They are always willing to learn and develop their football abilities, with the standard of football being very high throughout. They have been a brilliant group to work with and it has been a privilege to been involved in this project."
The game turned out to be a very close affair, with a late penalty meaning the score ended 3-2 in favour of the Northampton XI. The scorers for Learn 2 Live FC were Iseyas Mehari and Fernando Brahna.