Soccer tourney celebrates refugees who came to America looking for freedom
Refugees representing the countries of Ethiopia, Bhutan, Somalia and more took to the fields behind South Middle School Saturday afternoon for the annual World Refugee Soccer Tournament. Excited players and fans were eager to pose for pictures an...
Refugees representing the countries of Ethiopia, Bhutan, Somalia and more took to the fields behind South Middle School Saturday afternoon for the annual World Refugee Soccer Tournament. Excited players and fans were eager to pose for pictures and kick off the competition.
The event, organized annually by the Global Friends Coalition, aims to raise awareness of refugees not just in Grand Forks, but all across America, according to Cynthia Shabb, executive director of the Global Friends Coalition.
"The idea is to celebrate refugees," she said. "Just as a remembrance that there are people all over the world that are displaced, there are people all over that are looking for freedom."
The event was originally to take place on World Refugee Day, which has been celebrated on June 20 every since its inception in 2001, but was rescheduled due to Ramadan falling during that time.
The traditions of Ramadan - fasting, abstaining from drinking liquids - would have made playing soccer games too strenuous for observers of the holiday, Shabb said, so the tournament was delayed until after Ramadan and the Fourth of July.
Shabb has been organizing the tournament since its kicked off in 2011. This year is the most successful year the tournament has seen, despite one of the main teams pulling out of the tournament at the last minute. This year's lineup brought two women's team and four men's teams from, coming from Grand Forks and Fargo.
The North Dakota Shining Star club team is a Fargo-based team that will travel to tournaments in Omaha, Neb., and Pittsburgh, Pa., in addition to attending regional tournaments this summer.
Shabb said that soccer was chosen as the event to commemorate refugees because it is shared by so many cultures and is a healthy thing for the community. And she hopes it shows the community a thing or two.
"Many of the players came as refugees themselves and are now in Grand Forks...pursuing the American dream." she said.