Irish team set for UEFA UNITY EURO Cup
Ireland Under-21s Head Coach Jim Crawford will be part of the staff as an ambassador overseeing the squad of 11 players. The squad includes two women and is made up of eight people who are refugees in Ireland with three non-refugees.
The tournament is an invitee only competition and celebrates those nations who have helped to provide opportunities to those seeking refuge in their country. It was developed alongside UEFA & the UNHCR (the United Nations Refugee Agency). The tournament represents both UEFA’s and National Associations commitment to Football and Social Responsibility as well as the UN's focus on inclusion.
This year, 16 teams will compete to become the champions representing Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the European Union. In total, the tournament will involve more than 170 young people from refugee and host communities
Jonathan Tormey (FAI Development Officer for the South East and South Inner City) will be assisted by Mick Byrne of TUSLA with both working with the squad in the last few weeks. On Tuesday they were drawn in Group C with Belgium, Northern Ireland and Malta with the games taking place on Wednesday.
Ireland Under-21s Head Coach Jim Crawford said: "I'm privileged to be an ambassador the Irish team heading to the UNITY EURO Cup. I was once an FAI Development Officer and I've seen first-hand the hard work that Jonathan has done to run programmes to involve people in the community through football. I joined the players at training a few weeks back and all were excited to pull on the green jersey and represent Ireland at a tournament. That's the beauty football can have."
Jonathan has worked tireless in the last 17 years to help involve people throughout Ireland into the community through football. He said the UNITY EURO Cup presents an opportunity many players could only dream of.
Speaking ahead of the tournament he said: "I'm very excited to lead a group to a tournament and it is a fantastic opportunity to represent their country - Ireland is their country.
"To do that on a European level is special and it's great to see the tournament double in size from last year. It gives players something to look forward to and it's also an incentive for people who have been part of our programmes to be part of a UNITY EURO Cup squad.
"Football is a fantastic tool to involve people into the community and now these players have an opportunity to play in a team that represents Ireland - it's something they could have only dreamed of. We have worked closely with TUSLA for 14 years and through that work the pathways for refugees to be involved in the community has strengthened.
"It's a tournament of friendship and no doubt there will good spirits among the teams, we’ll be going over to savour the experience.”
The fixtures will take place at SC Weiss Blau in Frankfurt with the final at the German Football Association's DFB Campus.