Former Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand’s founding aims for NI’s early return as a multicultural tournament that kicks off this weekend


Organizers of a multicultural football tournament this weekend said it would help bring young people together.

he former Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand’s founding partnered with refugee and migrant communities in Northern Ireland to host a youth leadership football event in Co Armagh on Sunday.

Fifteen young people from the Syrian community will be in charge of an intercommunal five-a-side football tournament in People’s Park in Portadown, where it is expected to host around 170 young footballers.

The event is hosted by NI Hyatt, which supports refugee and migrant communities in Armagh and Down, the Rio Ferdinand Foundation, PSNI and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon ​​Borough Council.

It is part of the Youth In Action program of the Uefa Foundation, which provides activities, training and accreditation for young people to carry out community action projects that promote social inclusion, community cohesion and fight racism in Ireland. North.

However, it won’t be just football, with the event being billed as a celebration of youth achievements and a way to expand cultural horizons, with each participant also enjoying a picnic featuring traditional Syrian cuisine.

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A previous NI Hyatt event.

A previous NI Hyatt event.

Sunday’s tournament provides the opportunity for local and migrant youth teams to compete for the trophies and will feature teams of Syrian and East Timorese players from the Newry and Dungannon Youth In Action projects.

NI Hyatt volunteer director Ligia Parizzi said the organization held a focus group with migrant communities last year, which led to Sunday’s event.

There was a huge demand for a sports related event to help young people develop their skills and NI Hyatt worked with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation to help organize the soccer tournament.

Ms Parizzi added that the event will bring together not only migrant communities but also young people from Northern Ireland.

‘Young people were very isolated and they felt very affected by Covid – not only coming from a vulnerable background, but it was exacerbated by a lack of social interaction,’ Ms Parizzi told the Belfast Telegraph.

“We teamed up with some of our friends from PSNI and the Rio Ferdinand Foundation, and we successfully ran an online leadership course for 15 young Syrians.

“They were all buzzing about it – even though it was online – because of the interaction with each other.

“They were learning, they were really developing their skills and they thought it would be good to have a tournament at the end.

“We organized the tournament, but it’s largely a youth-led initiative. It’s about putting their skills into practice.

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Mazen Haseno, Ligia Parizzi, and Hassan Al Khawam, NI Hyatt Board Members.


Mazen Haseno, Ligia Parizzi, and Hassan Al Khawam, NI Hyatt Board Members.

Mazen Haseno, Ligia Parizzi, and Hassan Al Khawam, NI Hyatt Board Members.

Rio Ferdinand Foundation founder and boss Rio Ferdinand said it was important to create inclusive communities and help young people develop their skills.

“Our partnership with the Uefa Foundation helps us to help young people fight racism and it is good to see communities in Northern Ireland taking this approach,” he said.

“I would like to congratulate the young people involved in holding the event in Portadown for their hard work and training to date and look forward to seeing the results of their work in the future.”

The football tournament will take place on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., while the Rio Ferdinand Foundation hopes to host similar events across Northern Ireland next month in conjunction with the UEFA Super Cup, to be held at Windsor Park. August 11.

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