A FOOTBALL tournament proved a winning way of bringing together refugees, the police, NHS staff and charity workers.
Refugees and asylum seekers kicked off National Refugee Week with the football event at Parkgate Astro pitches.
It was organised by Rotherham United Community Sports Trust and the competition was aimed at building links between people new to the area and agencies they may need.
Rotherham United’s Inclusion team joined five-a-siders backed by the British Red Cross, teams from the police, NHS drug, alcohol and mental health service users in Barnsley, and asylum seekers and refugees from Sheffield and Rotherham.
Nine matches were played and Sheffield refugees team Allstar United were crowned the winners after beating Rotherham United Inclusion 2-0 in the final.
Rotherham police hate crime co-ordinator and Rotherham police team coach PC Chris Nicholson said: “Some refugees and asylum seekers can arrive in South Yorkshire with a suspicion of the police, based on the policing culture they have experienced in the country from where they have travelled.
“This tainted view of the police and other agencies can preclude them from raising concerns or making complaints when they have been the victims of crime, which prevents officers from protecting some of our society’s most vulnerable people and tackling hate crime.
“The tournament was played in a really good spirit and I hope those who participated recognise that underneath the uniform we are regular guys who share a common enjoyment of football.
“More importantly, we are approachable and friendly.”