The much-anticipated rematch between Unity in Diversity and Talgarth Town FC was one of the highlights of a sanctuary day at the weekend.
There were over 40 visitors seeking asylum or refuge – who are now living in Swansea, Cardiff and Herefordshire – to the town for the Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees-organised event, which was planned to coincide with Talgarth Sports Festival.
The day also featured a poignant tribute to Mohammed Abdurezek, a refugee who played in last year’s game, who was found stabbed to death in Gloucestershire on Christmas eve.
HBTSR’s Ailsa Dunn said: “It’s been a busy month with four different respite days and a weekend of fund and awareness raising but, once again, our magnificent supporters rose to the occasion and turned out in their droves to welcome our visitors.
“Our organiser for this day, Virginia Brown, had built a great team around her. We had asked people to bring fruit and toiletries and they heard our pleas and we had enough fruit for everyone to eat their fill and to send a very large box back to Swansea, enough toiletries to give everyone who came a bag to take home as well as enough to send back to Swansea to share out at the drop-in centres,
Gwernyfed Rugby Club acted as the base for the day and, in addition to hundreds of donations of food, toiletries, clothes and toys from local people, the event was also supported by the Co-Op, Morrisons, Talgarth Stores, Talgarth Mill and Brecon’s Gurkha Corner restaurant.
The day was also filmed to form part of a True Vision Wales documentary about the welcome refugees receive in this country.
“I know that they saw much to impress them about how a small town and rural area can do so much to help people feel welcome and wanted,” Ailsa said.
“People who in their everyday life don’t often feel valued, believed or liked. People who have suffered from persecution, torture, danger and having escaped find themselves having to subsist upon £36.95 a week and with the constant threat hanging over them of being sent back to ‘where they came from’.
“People who may have had their story accepted and given refugee status for varying amounts of time but who now struggle to find somewhere to live, work and try to rebuild their lives in a country where they may not speak the language well and where the culture is very different.”
This year’s Unity in Diversity (UID) v Talgarth Town FC game began with a perfectly-observed minute’s silence for Mohammed, which had been suggested by home team manager Chris Voyles.
An exciting game – which included two profoundly deaf players – featured a penalty for UID taken in Premier League fashion, goals scored from 30 yards out, and ended in a final score of 11-5.
“Thanks to the people of Talgarth for sharing their magnificent sport festival,to Jacqui Wilding and Talgarth Regeneration group for their organisation , to the many people and businesses who donated goods for us to share with our guests and the drop ins in Swansea, to Talgarth Town FC for their warm welcome and the opportunity to play and watch such an enjoyable game and to GWERNYFED RFC for their unwavering support and finally for all the many local supporters of all ages who came to help to ensure that our visitors could enjoy such a good day out. ‘
“Our new friends from Cardiff, Newport and Herefordshire left promising to return and saying they wished they had known about us sooner,” Ailsa said.