Refugee students from Newman Catholic College take part in youth team match between Brentford and QPR

10 refugee students from Newman Catholic College were selected to take part in football matches orga

10 refugee students from Newman Catholic College were selected to take part in football matches organised by Amnesty International. - Credit: Archant

Newman Catholic College students formed the backbone of a QPR youth team that battled it out against their west London rivals Brentford in friendly matches to raise awareness about refugees living in the UK.

The matches were part of Football Welcomes – a weekend of action for football clubs coordinated by Amnesty – marking the 80th anniversary of the arrival in the UK of some of the first refugees to play professional football here.

A crew of 10 committed Newman pupils from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan were selected through trials, including four boys who had come to the UK on their own having been separated from their families.

Youth teams played a series of matches before the children had the chance to attend the big match – with the added honour of standing together with the players on the pitch prior to kick-off – as Brentford ran out 3-1 winners on the day.

Assistant headteacher Susan Grace said: “There was great camaraderie and solidarity between the two youth teams despite hugely differing backgrounds, football experience and even size.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to offer real hope not only to themselves but to their families and other refugees struggling to find a home here in the UK.

“QPR and Newman Community College are planning to continue this exciting partnership to strengthen the school’s refugee community through regular training opportunities and bespoke work experiences.”

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QPR youth and communities officer James McLynn added: “The power of football as a universal language and its ability to bring people together is well known.

“We run a number of free football sessions across west and north west London and these sessions attract young people from various backgrounds.

“The club recognises the stigma that can be attached to those with refugee status and deems it important to acknowledge the contribution that refugees make to this country past, present and future.”