Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Lord Willy Bach has praised the organisers of a multi-cultural football tournament which brought together 16 nationalities for a weekend of entertainment and sport.
Leicester hosted its first Inner City World Cup at Victoria Park as part of a nationally-run project celebrating diversity and promoting community integration.
Despite torrential rain, 184 players from 16 countries representing Leicester-based grassroots football teams turned out in a powerful show of togetherness and solidarity.
Antiqua & Barbuda eventually triumphed, beating Ghana 1-0 in the final ahead of this weekend’s Leicester Caribbean Carnival.
Other teams taking part included Colombia, Ecuador, England, Eritrea, India, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Poland, Somali, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand and Turkey.
Mark Abery, founder of the Inner City World Cup, an event growing across the UK, said: “What a memorable day – we were privileged to have been able to bring The Inner City World Cup to Leicester which showcased the city for the wonderfully warm and diverse place it is.
“Already, we can’t wait until next year with more country teams, kids and women’s football and food stalls planned.”
Willy Bach, who supported the event with funding, said: “This is a fantastic event for Leicester celebrating diversity, community spirit and the power of sport to unite people.
“We had wanted to support this event for a long time and to see it working so well with everyone enjoying themselves is superb.
“I would like to congratulate Mark and the organisers of this event for their hard work and vision. Sport not only builds bridges but it also gives young people the motivation to succeed and develop their talents which is urgently needed to deter crime. We’re looking forward to the Inner City World Cup becoming a permanent fixture in the event calendar in Leicester.”
Former Leicester City Captain Matt Elliot, who supported and helped launch the event, added: “Well done to Antigua & Barbuda but more than the actual winners, The Inner City World Cup has celebrated our community spirit and brought together everyone from all different walks of life and so many nationalities centrally in Vicky Park – its brilliant.”
The Inner City World Cup launched in 1994 in the East End of London and was designed to encourage multicultural grassroots players to represent their origins in the UK.
The first Leicester event comprised 16 teams each made up of 12 players per squad in an eight-a-side contest.
Antiguan & Barbudan High Commissioner, Karen-Mae Hill, extended her congratulations to the winning team and commended the organisers for bringing Antiguans and Barbudans together for the event.
“The Government of Antigua and Barbuda supports wholesome activities like this which beyond the goal of winning, achieve their greatest success by bringing our community together and projecting positive news about our shared identity and heritage as Antiguans and Barbudans,” she added.
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Posted on Wednesday 14th August 2019