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Despite recent FA guidance saying that small, socially distanced sessions can now take place, we decided not to resume for an indefinite period, owing to the disproportionate mortality figures linked to BAME COVID infections.
Quite simply, we aren’t prepared to risk the health of any of our participants whilst the virus is still a very real and present threat to our communities.
Since the cessation of football activities, our efforts shifted to helping our participants with asylum issues, access to foodbanks and signposting to temporary employment opportunities at such an uncertain time.
This would not have been possible without the extensive list of contacts, resources and goodwill we have been afforded across the Liverpool area over the past 4 years.
For these past four years City of Liverpool FC has led the way as a beacon of inclusion and diversity in communities across Liverpool.
The ground-breaking #Football4Everyone scheme started in 2016 and now sees up to 30 refugees and asylum seekers participate in friendly sessions in Everton Park each Sunday.
The scheme sees refugees participate on mixed teams alongside local lads, aimed at building friendships, assisting community cohesion and providing participants with points of contact for their new life in Liverpool.
Since the inception of this scheme we have seen over 300 refugees and asylum seekers participate in our sessions, all of which have been provided for free, with football clothing and boots donated to all participants who need the kit which you or I might ordinarily take for granted.
‘Running’ alongside this is the increasingly popular Social Footy initiative. This used to be Walking Footy but everyone ran so we decided a re-brand was in order!
The Social Footy offering provides the opportunity to get fit, make friends or stay active, albeit in a slower paced game.
This has been particularly well supported by friendship groups formed by match-going Purps and matchday volunteers.
We also run a Wednesday night indoor session consisting of participants from all of our schemes.
We find this is a lovely metaphor for the cohesion we have witnessed across the city, but also within our own organisation. It is also a regular reminder for the coaches to wash the bibs after Sunday’s sessions!
All of our sessions are aimed at uniting our diverse community through mutual love of the beautiful game, regardless of age, ability, ethnicity or economic circumstances.
Over the past four years we have taken great pride in seeing bonds forming between communities which may not ordinarily have met.
One of the most heart-warming moments we’ve witnessed was when one of our refugees, Khalid, scored a decisive goal in a match against Mersey Marauders.
The look of delight on his face as his tidy finish hit the back of the net was only surpassed by seeing him congratulated by high fives and hugs from his team mates, all from different walks of life and all corners of the globe.
In absence of our regular football offering, it has been a great source of pride for us to see so many of our Social Footy participants and fellow Purps volunteer to become delivery drivers within the Purple Pantry, providing weekly deliveries of essential food items to the most needy within our area.
This is yet another example of our club leading the way, taking ownership of helping others in our area.
Moving forward we won’t let up in our efforts to bring communities together through mutual love of football.
We have plans to showcase the individual stories of our participants, providing regular updates of what we get up to and strengthening the existing bond we have with all aspects of COLFC.
We’re also looking forward to benefitting from an exciting potential switch in venue in the near future.
We are grateful to the recent coverage we have had in The Morning Star, and particularly James Nalton whose articles have helped us reach more people than ever.
Thanks also to those who supported our fundraiser for essential winter clothing items for our refugee footballers – the items were gratefully received by our participants.
When we do elect to resume our sessions we’ll be keen to make up for lost time.
Until then, please bear with us. We will only resume when we are confident that it is safe for ALL participants.
Despite what the government told us at the start of Lockdown, we aren’t prepared to lose any of our loved ones!
We’d like to end this little ‘catch up’ by drawing your attention to the Memberships Purchase and Renewal Window opening for Purps membership.
Please support this initiative by renewing/becoming a member and opting for one of the packages.
We’ve been greatly supported by the Club, which helps our organisation to function and reach as many people as possible.
This great relationship has helped us to benefit the lives of the many; be it refugees and asylum seekers, Social Football participants or the recipients of Purple Pantry goods.
COLFC Community Volunteers. #UTP
The following selection of images is taken from Purps Matchday’s coverage of our recent #Football4Everyone sessions.