The Syrian Community Football Club benefits the local community by empowering young refugees (ages 16 to 25) and their families to participate in sports and effectively involving wider community members into well-being and integration opportunities. The initial group includes 20 highly motivated young Syrian refugees living in the Belfast, ABC, Lisburn and Newry Council areas.
Some of the identified young refugees benefiting from this initiative already established successful partnerships with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation, UEFA Foundation and the IFA. As a football team, they managed to secure short-term support or self-funded participation in friendly matches and tournaments, run by other youth and ethnic minority-led organisations (i.e. Multi-ethnic Sports and Cultures NI - MSCNI, Ethnic Minority Sports Organisation Northern Ireland - EMSONI and Extern Charity - Syrian Eagles team).
NI Hyatt is essentially a refugee-led organisation. The football club idea has originated from its strong local links with the community and a number of focus groups involving resettled families who share the same cultural identity, enjoy socialising and feel affected by isolation due to the lack of social networks and language barrier. COVID19 lockdown and the additional restrictions faced by the vulnerable refugee community have exacerbated the lack of interactions and opportunities of integration for young people. These young refugees felt particularly affected by the current circumstances. They expressed interest in developing a Syrian football team and club as a leisure activity and, potentially, competitive opportunity to promote well-being and strenghtned social bonds among themselves and with the wider community.