QUEENS Park Rangers Football Club and Amnesty International UK are working in partnership for the third Football Welcomes weekend ahead of our match against Nottingham Forest to celebrate the contribution refugees make to the game.
The first Football Welcomes weekend took place in April 2017, on the 80th anniversary of the arrival in the UK of a group of child refugees from the Spanish Civil War who went on to become some of the first refugees to play professional football here.
Players whose families have had to flee conflict and persecution have been making their mark on the game ever since.
In 2018, the number of clubs participating in the weekend doubled to 60, including over half the Premier League and teams from across the FA Women’s Super League, the Scottish Premiership and the English Football League, as well as grassroots clubs. Please join us in making it even bigger in 2019!
Football Welcomes comes under Amnesty UK’s 'I Welcome campaign', which calls for a better international response to the refugee crisis and encourages local communities to work together to create a more welcoming environment for refugees and people seeking asylum.
With football clubs at the heart of so many communities across the UK, and with football’s unique power to bring people together, they can play a key role in helping to make people feel welcome, to settle in to new country and in promoting integration and inclusion.
QPR in the Community Trust CEO Andy Evans said of the initiative: “The Amnesty International - Football Welcomes campaign provides a focal point for everyone connected to football, from supporters to players to ensure our wonderful game welcomes everybody.
“The game flourishes when people from all communities, and from all walks of life, are able to participate in it and made to feel welcome here at QPR and in wider society.”
Whilst R’s full-back Jake Bidwell added: “It’s brilliant to see football clubs taking a stand to welcome refugees. Amnesty’s Football Welcomes could not be more timely and I’m delighted we are getting involved.”
We will be celebrating this day before during and after the Nottingham Forest game this weekend – our final home fixture of the season.
Our partners Young Roots will also be taking part in the celebrations. They are a charity founded in 2004, currently working in London, and in partnership with community-based organisations in Lebanon and Nepal, to provide support and activities for young refugees and asylum seekers.
Nottingham Forest Football Club will be our opponents on the field but our friends off the pitch as they’ve kindly agreed to share the day. They will be bringing along a group of young refugees and asylum seekers, with our Young Roots’ group amongst a host of activities before watching the game at Loftus Road.
Make sure you visit PlayFootball Shepherds Bush (just a one minute walk away from Loftus Road) before our match to get involved in all of the planned football related activities before the match.
On Sunday, QPR Women will also be showing their support for the Football Welcomes campaign when they play Chichester City Ladies in the FA Women's National League.