Out of San Antonio comes a heartwarming story which we thought we would bring to your attention. It involves young Iraqi refugees and the sport which creates an avenue with which to maintain their identity.
A number of Iraqis in the San Antonio area, with the help of local Refugee resettlement and assistance organizations have formed soccer teams in order to give resettled youth a social outlet. But, as the article points out :
the sport is more than a game for the 10 team members, who wear gray T-shirts with numbers written in black marker. The game also represents a potential pass to a college education and a long-shot audition for a professional team.
Soccer is a beloved tradition in the Middle East, as it is throughout most of the world. Ronaldo and Messi Jerseys are as prevalent a sight in the Middle East as they are in Europe where the famous (and sometimes infamous) club teams have their leagues. They line the shops of all cities big and small, and the televisions in every cafe and night club are always tuned in to the latest match.
Keeping the sport alive after resettlement in the United States is a way to remind these Iraqis of their roots, and to bring them together, as one of the boys explains:
“We’ll take separate ways,” Bakir said, “But we’ll always be bonded by soccer.”
No doubt that these boys will be cheering for Iraq as it continues its play in the Asian Cup, where it seeks to defend its title.