Unite football tournament plays a blinder!

Last Saturday 16th January, a very unique event took place at Barnsley Football Club.

Photos by Brian Clarke and Ian Parker.

The event was a 5 a side football tournament, not just any 5 a side tournament, this event was unique because it was organised by two passionate football fans, Linda Hughes (Unite Union Learning Organiser) and Joe Rollin (Unite Industrial Organising Officer) as an anti-racist event and to show support for refugees and asylum seekers.

The idea was developed when Linda and Joe became aware that a group of asylum seekers/refugees in Barnsley were spending their time playing football in Locke Park Barnsley. It was decided to organise using the title of “Celebrating diversity through learning” and supported by Barnsley FC Community Trust, Learn with Unite, Achievement through sport, Professional Footballers Association, Union Learning Fund, Show Racism the Red Card and Barnsley Trades Union Council.

Following negotiations with Barnsley Football Club the tournament was held in the Training Academy and 16 teams were invited to take place. The teams, 4 from Barnsley, 1 from Doncaster, 2 from Leeds, 1 from Leicester, 2 from Manchester, 1 from London, 2 from Middlesbrough, 1 from Pudsey and 2 from Sheffield. Getting all the fixtures worked out was quite a task but the organisers did it and made a good job of it.

We will not mention all the teams but the team from where the idea came from was Barnsley ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) an all women team a Dads & Lads team and a music group turned out a team.

The day went very well with very few hitches, 3 pitches were used simultaneously it was great to see such activity with so many Nationalities taking part, all watched and cheered on by a good audience of very enthusiastic supporters.

At half time Kenny Barron Unite the Union’s Head of Lifelong Learning presented ESOL certificates and medals to the Barnsley ESOL Team and a free buffet was provided by the Professional Footballers Association which was a bit like the proverbial bun fight, but much appreciated.

After all the matches had been played, the team coming out on top were Manchester Refugee Support, showing some excellent football skills, worthy winners. The trophy was presented by Dave Gibson on behalf of Barnsley Trades Union Council who provided trophies and medals.

All in all a very enjoyable day and thanks should be given to Barnsley Football Club, Unite the Union, Professional Footballers Association not forgetting Linda and Joe. The Barnsley team asked if it was going to be a regular event!! Perhaps it may develop into an Annual event, who knows?