Team members taking a group photo. (CGTN Photo)
A multicultural football tournament in Sao Paulo last weekend was not just about which team scored the most goals. It was an opportunity for refugees to better integrate into a society facing its own challenges.
Teams representing refugees from Angola, Burkina-Faso, Congo, Haiti, Mali, Syria, The Gambia and Brazil participated in the multicultural tournament.
Last year, the event was cancelled because of a struggling economy, but this year it pushed through despite continued recession.
Besides the football tournament, there were also activities for the children and families of the players. The main goal of the event was to introduce the immigrants to other people from different communities to help them better integrate into the local society.
Many of the refugees and immigrants who have already been in Brazil for a while have found jobs and created their own networks to help them make it through the economic crisis. For those who arrived recently, the recession makes it much harder to settle in and build a new life.
Marcelo Haydu, the founder of ADUS Institute for Refugee Integration, the NGO that organizes the tournament, said the struggling economy also makes it harder for Brazilians to accept the newcomers.
"People say they are coming here to steal our jobs. It's the kind of thing we hear all the time. And when there is a crisis this kind of idea, of which I disagree, resonates more in society. This makes their integration process even harder," said Haydu.
In the tournament, the team from Congo was the champion with the Haitians coming in second. Trophies were awarded just for the top two, but organizers said everyone was a winner.