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Football for Freedom about to kick off!

Tuesday 30th October

On the 10th of November, Football for Freedom will kick off. The fundraising tournament in Walter Massey Park, brings seven-a-side soccer teams together to battle it out in support of refugees the world over.

Organised by the Football for Freedom committee, headed by Manukau City Association Football Club chairperson (and captain of northern premier league team Manukau United) Hone Fowler, the Football for Freedom tournament is hoping to both raise funds for Ahli Nusierat Football Club in Gaza, Palestine, and collect football boots for former refugees who have settled in New Zealand. “The idea is to attract a wide range of different communities, and to celebrate everyone coming together, through football, for a good cause,” says Fowler.

The games will be played at Walter Massey Park, using the clubrooms of Manukau City Association Football Club, who have a twin agreement with the Ahli Nusierat Club. The agreement was made during a trip by NGO Kia Ora Gaza to Palestine in 2012 to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, which has been subjected to a harsh blockade for eleven years. The Palestinian club was established in 1977, and is based in Nusseirat refugee camp in Southern Gaza, the third largest refugee camp in Palestine. The camp has a youthful population of around 100,000 people and only a small handful of sports clubs.

The tournament last took place in 2014, and raised over $2,000 for Ahli Nusierat Club, whose clubrooms were destroyed by bombs in 2009. The funds went towards rebuilding the clubrooms, sports uniforms, table tennis equipment and repairing a damaged water pump so that the club grounds could be irrigated.

The tournament also hopes to raise awareness around the plight of refugees globally, and will undertake a boot drive to support former refugees who are housed at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre and settling in New Zealand.

“The aim of the tournament is to not only highlight issues in Gaza and Palestine, but also to bring the current global refugee crisis into the limelight,” Kiwi Palestinian, and co-organiser of the event, Kholoud Sharaia. “In New Zealand we have just increased our intake of former refugees to 1,500 per year, which is fantastic. However, many arrive here with the limited possessions they could gather before fleeing to refugee camps. This is why we are asking for donations of football boots, to make sure that as many of these former refugees as possible can get involved in the sporting culture of our communities, here in their new home.”

The tournament will consist of both a mixed division and a men’s, and will cost $25 per person, or $250 per team for the day. This cost also includes cultural performances and music. 100 per cent of the profits will be sent to Ahli Nusierat Club. For more information, head to Football for Freedom on Facebook.


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