REFUGEE VI FOOTBALL TEAM BY EPHRAIM NTLAMO

Refugee VI football club is an initiative by Ephraim Ntlamo (18 years old). Refugee VI is a youth soccer club based in Cape Town, South Africa. It was formed in September 2009. The purpose of this team is not only to kick some balls around. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency [UNHCR] South Africa hosts some 40,000 refugees and over 100,000 asylum -seekers. A large part of these refugees are unaccompanied children between the age group of 15 and 18 who fled their countries on their own without any friend nor family member. After the xenophobic attacks in May 2008 the relationship between foreign nationals from other African states and South African local communities became fragile. As a refugee child, I thought it would be necessary to form a sport institution that could be part of the solution. I also hoped to give these children something to keep themselves busy with and to bring back the fun, friendship, self esteem and confidence which I learned we refugee children miss badly.

The real issue that drove me to spend most of my time getting this team together was the fact that refugee children face different sorts of discrimination. This discrimination becomes mostly visible in schools or in public transport. I felt that there is a need of communication between and mutual understanding of refugees and the local communities. The question is: how can this be achieved? In my opinion, this difficult integration process can easily be achieved through sport. So the idea of Refugee VI is that we play soccer while spreading the message and the awareness about refugees. For example, where do we come from? What made us flee our country? How did we make it to South Africa? The idea is for us refugees not to isolate ourselves from the locals but to have a good rewarding relationship that benefits the community and the country as a whole. We have a few South African players in the team.

Why the name Refugee VI? Refugees in South Africa come mostly from the following 6 nations: Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Angola, Uganda, Somalia, and D.R.C

Lastly and most importantly Refugee VI serves to persuade other refugee children to consider education as the way to success or a better life. We meet after training and discuss issues like HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. So far the idea has worked very well, some of the boys gave up their jobs in the vineyard farms and look forward to brightening their futures by attending school next year.See website (www.refugee6foundation.org)

IF WE CAN PLAY SOCCER TOGETHER ,WE CAN STOP XENOPHOBIA TOGETHER

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