Football Unites Racism Divides has worked in the South Yorkshire region since it was set up in 1995 but now it’s taking its message abroad.
Desbon Bushiri, FURD community coach, recently travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo to coach children whose lives have been ripped apart by civil war, tribal and ethnic conflict.
His ‘Football Between Communities’ project uses football as a tool to encourage peace and reconciliation.
Desbon hails from the neighbouring country of Burundi and fled the genocide in his own homeland, aged 18.
He sought asylum in Britain and has now made Sheffield his home.
Last December he was granted full UK citizenship and is now free to return to Africa without fear of persecution.
FIFA has funded Desbon to travel to the Sud Kivu area to set up a coaching centre.
Desbon explains: “I believe that football can bring people together in a positive shared activity regardless of nationality, community, religion and gender, particularly young people in difficult situations caused by civil war and disease.
“Sport is an educational tool and can play a vital role in improving lives of individuals and whole communities, particularly those living in the midst of poverty, disease and conflict.
“Sud Kivu is one of the largest provinces of DR Congo and 60 per cent of its population still live in displaced areas both within and across the frontiers, whilst more than half of young people between the ages of six and 20 are orphans from war conflict and disease such as HIV and malaria. Around 70 per cent of young people are without access to education.”
Football Unites Racism Divides is launching an appeal to develop Desbon’s project and will kick off its exciting African venture at 8pm on Friday April 4 at Sheffield United’s Tunnel Bar on John Street.
Arctic Monkeys, Richard Hawley and Reverend and The Makers have donated auction prizes for the Sharrow to Soweto event and a group from Zimbabwe is to perform at the launch.
Desbon added: “I am very grateful that Football Unites, Racism Divides has agreed to use the Sharrow to Soweto event to raise money to pay for the transportation of balls, boots, kit and goalposts to DR Congo, where it is eagerly awaited.”
Donations can be made to NatWest, Football Between Communities, Account 22280286.
Tickets for the event are £4 or £3 concessions and can be booked by ringing FURD on 0114 2553156.