Created by immigrants. Refugees welcome
As a lifelong Celtic fan and season ticket holder, it made me proud to see my club giving 32 free tickets to local refugees so they could come to see a game recently.
It was arranged with Refuweegee, a Glasgow charity that supports refugees, and whose members volunteer with Care4Calais, where I work. They do a great job, and believe in restoring dignity to refugees, as we do.
The Celtic visit got me thinking about how important it is to welcome people if we want them to be a part of our society.
“A football club will be formed for the maintenance of dinner tables for children and the unemployed” is the famous quote from Brother Walfrid, an Irish Marist who founded Celtic Football Club to improve the desperate situation of working class Irish immigrants in Glasgow’s East End.
Today, the stadium’s concourse adjoins a mural created by the club’s ultras supporters group which reads, “Created by immigrants. Refugees welcome.” Banner displays in the stands have shown solidarity with refugees and those suffering oppression in Palestine.
Every time I proudly pass that mural on match days, it’s a reminder football is not just a sport but a community that unites people across the world. That through football, working-class people can show openness and kindness towards strangers – one of the greatest virtues a community can possess.
Showing that kindness strengthens community and identity, and it’s what we should be doing if we really believe in integration.
Other football clubs are coming to think that way too, and all around the country our volunteers have been linking up with their local clubs, who have offered visits and training facilities . If you’re a Care4Calais volunteer, why not give it a try? Judging by the looks on the guys’ faces, it’d certainly make some people very happy!