Norfolk World Cup to break down barriers

PUBLISHED: 06:30 16 March 2006 | UPDATED: 09:17 14 September 2010

They may not have Ronaldo in their squad, but Brazil are still favourites to win the spoils at next month's World Cup. The Norfolk World Cup that is. Organisers of the tournament believe the beautiful game can break down barriers between the county's migrant communities, bolstering relations on and off the pitch.

They may not have Ronaldo in their squad, but Brazil are still favourites to win the spoils at next month's World Cup. The Norfolk World Cup that is.

Organisers of the tournament believe the beautiful game can break down barriers between the county's migrant communities, bolstering relations on and off the pitch.

Community groups also hope the event will help to promote greater trust between ethnic minorities and the police.

Pat Kavanagh , minority communities officer with Norfolk police, believes it could even help avoid a repeat of the Thetford riot during Euro 2004, after which 13 yobs were jailed for attacking Portuguese fans gathered at a pub.

Among the 16 different teams expected to compete against each other for year's title are Lithuania, Latvia, China, India, and Portugal, with current holders Brazil posted as joint-favourites.

PC Kavanagh said: “We are trying to break down pre-conceived ideas that migrant workers are here to break into houses, most of them are here to help the community.

“The World Cup is about trying to integrate people and breaking down barriers so we don't get a repeat of the riots in Thetford.”

The Football Association has thrown its weight behind the tournament and described it as a “positive” step.

A spokesman said yesterday: “The FA is committed to football for all and everybody having the opportunity to take part in the beautiful game.

“Anything which has been organised to get communities together and solve problems can only be seen as positive step.”

Brazil might be the favourites, but Kwai Li, from the West Norfolk and District Chinese Association, was brimming with confidence as his team practised in front of the EDP cameras yesterday .

“If I can get a side together, we could be a force to be reckoned with,” he said.

The six-a-side tournament is entering its second year, with organisers looking to increase the number of teams from eight to 16.

Organisers expect police officers, firefighters and ambulance crews to take part in the cup, which was the brainchild of Kwai Li and Chris Collict , from the Portuguese Speakers' Association.

Mr Collict said: “2005's event was very successful. We had about eight or nine teams. It was excellent and we felt it should be run again.”

Teams from all communities in West Norfolk are being asked to enter the tournament, which may be extended county-wide next year if it proves a success.

And those who are unable to get enough players together have been told they can borrow volunteers from the emergency services.

Kwai Li said: “It is supposed to be a family day and there will be lots of entertainment on offer.

“If there is any aggressiveness or abuse on the pitch, a penalty will be awarded against the team.”

Organisers are lining-up bands, Irish dancers, yoga classes and Tai Chi demonstrations for visitors.

All competitors will receive medals and the winners a trophy.

To receive an application form, or for more information, contact Pat Kavanagh on 01553 665035 or 07765 973788, Kwai Li on 07976 219508, or Chris Collict on 01553 762020.

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