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28/07/2017 - 07:00hs

Refugee women and men together in a soccer field

A pre-tournament for the 4th Refugee Cup, the Integration Cup will have mixed-sex teams next Sunday, at Sesc Itaquera, São Paulo. The idea is to value women in sports.


A match of the Refugee Cup of last year

São Paulo – It’s less than a month to go before the opening kickoff of the Refugee Cup, a yearly soccer tournament organized by NGO África de Coração (Africa by Heart) in a partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Caritas Archdiocese of São Paulo and the Social Service of Commerce (SESC) with teams comprised of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants living in the city of São Paulo. As a pre-tournament, the organizations have put together, this Sunday, Integration Cup, another soccer tournament, but with a tweak in the rules and organization.

To start, the teams will be gender-mixes. Men and women, regardless of their nationalities, will enter the fields of Sesc Itaquera, a few kilometers from Arena Corinthians, the so-called Itaquerão, the stadium that hosted the opening match of the FIFA 2014 World Cup.

“Our idea is to fight sexism, which is very present in some of the cultures from where the refugees came from. We want to mix it all,” explained Abdul Jarour, coordinator of África de Coração, who came here three years ago from Aleppo, Syria, seeking asylum in Brazil.

According to him, the organizers intend to expand the role of women, since the refugees aren’t only men. “There’s even a change of culture: in the past, the men would get out first in search of refuge and later would bring the family. Today, there are more cases in which the family comes first and the man stays in the country a little longer,” he said.

Unlike the Refugee Cup, which gathers the athletes by country, the Integration Cup will have multi-ethnic teams, breaking another paradigm. Jarour says that six teams will be formed, each with three men, three women and a goalie.

The athletes will be selected by public shelters in São Paulo invited by the organization – Casa de Passagem Terra Nova, Casa de Acolhida Nossa Senhora Aparecida, Sefras Migrante, Arsenal da Esperança, Casa São Lázaro, Associação Palotina and Missão Scalabriana migrant center.

“This is a way of valuing all the differences, be it gender, cultural, nationality or age. These differences are only elements that enrich society, contributing to respect and diversity,” said in a statement Jean Katumba, a refugee from Congo and the creator of the project that’s been living in Brazil for the last four years.

The organizers believe that the people from over 20 countries will take part in the tournament, but could not guarantee the presence of any Arab. However, Jarour believes that some refugee from the region’s countries will attend. Maybe one of his athletes: the Syrian will be the head coach of his country in the Refugee Cup, which starts in August.

Admission is free for those wanting to watch the games, which start at 10 am on Sunday (30). Netshoes and Sodexo are the companies sponsoring the tournament.

Quick info

Integration Cup of Refugees and Migrants
Date: July 30
Where: Sesc Itaquera
Time: from 10 am to 4 pm
Free admission
Information: https://www.facebook.com/events/224846764682461/

*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani

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