Who says that football has lost its power to unite people? Certainly not the players inhaling persecution-free air and forgetting, just for a moment, that they have been made outcasts 

 

The dawn of a new day begins. The dust has settled. The flames of passion flickering … flickering — nothing but mere embers now. The wind: an unfamiliar blend of freedom and unity, gently caresses the pitch. The remnants of blood, sweat, and tears, shed by the players of the Liberté Cup, lay ingrained within the soil of Grande-Synthe. The earth sits quietly bathing in tranquillity, as if in a deep trance … reminiscing …

The event was not one to forget. As the players came out and lined up alongside one another the atmosphere was electric. The teams stood side by side. Silence filled the stadium. Everyone sat waiting …waiting. It was then, something magical happened. The refugees, scattered amongst the teams, began to sing. They sang in such perfect unison, their voices merged into one. Each one of them stood there, head held high. It was as if with every word they grew stronger and stronger, reclaiming the little power they had through their united voices. Their song echoed around the stadium and within the hearts of the players. The message being sent out to the world was clear. United they stand: United they fall.

After the first whistle was blown, what was to come would be a historic day for all:

Hearts were broken
Tempers flared , love was mutual
Happiness shared.

Nations connected
Passions ignited
Borders evaporated
Freedom united.

As the tournament drew to a close the players cheered in unity, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder. Red smoke engulfed the players, rising … rising like a dove, ever so gently soaring … soaring. Free.

The men and women of the Liberté Cup started as nothing but strangers, each one fighting their own battle. No matter how different those battles may be, they all share a common goal. They want to be free. Free from judgement, free from discrimination, free from the ignorance so mercilessly used to portray them.

The impact of the Liberté Cup was evident. The barriers of gender, race and language had been torn to shreds. Football had created one family, united in their fight for freedom.

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