A joint initiative between JRS Ireland and the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) for asylum seekers who are residents in Mount Trenchard, Foynes commenced with a Soccer Open Day on the 19th February 2009. Developed by Rory Halpin SJ (JRS Ireland) and Conor Nestor (FAI), the initiative involves an Open Day on the grounds of the Direct Provision Centre followed by a six-week pilot scheme of indoor soccer matches in the local community centre. The Open Day was a great success and many residents participated in a series of soccer skills competitions and an 8-a-side match to finish.
On subsequent Thursdays in the Foynes Community Centre there has been excellent attendance for the indoor soccer matches. Participants hail from Somalia, Cameroon, Nigeria, Iraq, Libya, Georgia, Albania and South Africa. They have been joined by Irish representatives: Eugene Quinn (JRS), Conor Nestor (FAI) and Declan (Mount Trenchard).
“Under the Direct Provision system,” said Eugene Quinn, National Director of JRS Ireland, “people seeking asylum do not have a right to work or to attend third level education courses. People may be many years awaiting the outcome of their asylum claim and may often become demotivated and socially isolated during this time. Getting out of the direct provision centres, playing sport, taking exercise, is good for their mental and physical health and enables them to cope better with their life situation.”