“Even though we are from many different nations we are one team.”
So say Chichester’s newest football team, made up entirely of refugees.
Nations United FC boasts around eight different nationalities but one strong team spirit and held their first training session this week ahead of their debut match next month.
The side features young men from countries such as Eritrea, Sudan, Iran, Egypt and Syria who have escaped hardship to start a new life here.
The team has been set up as one of the many projects run by Sanctuary in Chichester – a volunteer group helping refugees settle here.
Sanctuary member Jon, who is leading the football project with Steve Gough, said: “The great thing about this is it was the guys who came up with the idea of a football team and from their enthusiasm we have put things in place to make it happen.
“There are a range of abilities but we’re very lucky to have some very good players, some who have played youth football for their national sides.
“There’s lots of enthusiasm and the aim is to support and encourage them to rebuild their lives and it’s well documented that football is a great way of doing that.”
Nations United’s first match is on Saturday, March 4, at Chichester College’s all-weather pitches.
It will be a friendly against Clancy’s Cavalries, a local side who have lent the team a kit.
With interest already received from community partners, it is hoped they will soon have their own unique strip, regular training sessions and matches.
Jon said: “We have seven or eight different nationalities, which is quite extraordinary it itself.
“Last week they came up with the phrase ‘even though we are from many different nations we are one team’.
“That’s very poignant and has a great humanitarian quality to it.”
Sanctuary in Chichester works with the county council to house families around the city, hosts skills workshops each week, leads days out and support refugees in many ways.
For more about the group click here