Norwich City is proud to support Amnesty’s Football Welcomes initiative this weekend to celebrate the contribution refugee players make to the beautiful game.
This is the second year of the initiative, which helps to highlight the historic and current stories of players with a refugee background, as well as how the sport and wider football community can play a part in welcoming refugees and asylum seekers and promote integration.
The Club is also very pleased to be involved with the inaugural day of action, Norfolk Welcomes – which will see many schools across the county deliver assemblies and lessons on April 20 to raise awareness of refugee issues and connect pupils with Norwich’s rich history as a city of sanctuary and refuge. This project is a collaboration of the Norwich Schools of Sanctuary, Amnesty International UK as well as other local organisations and there are several Norwich City links, which will also help kick off the Football Welcomes weekend.
From learning about The Strangers – the term used to describe the many French and Dutch settlers who sought refuge in Norfolk in the 16th century and brought with them their famous canaries – to hearing about players past and present who have their own story of refuge to tell.
Stories such as that of goalkeeper Tony Gallego, a child refugee from the Spanish Civil War in 1937, who featured for the Canaries and Cambridge United in the 1940s – and then right up to date, City’s current Bosnian international Mario Vrančić, whose parents took the decision to move their family away from the impending Yugoslav civil war in the 1990s.
Mario has taken part in a video to be shown to the schools involved in the project today, in which he’s answered questions sent by one of the participating schools, Avenue Junior School in Norwich. The pupils there and others involved will also be taking part in a non-uniform day wearing green and yellow, and some making a voluntary contribution in order to raise money to support refugee communities locally.
Norwich City will join a range of Premier League clubs, the EFL, the FA Women’s Super League, and a number of non-league and grassroots teams in support of Football Welcomes this weekend.