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Migrant integration through sports

By Darrion Narine, Acting Chair, CCSJ and Programme Manager, AMMR

The Archdiocese Ministry for Migrants and Refugees (AMMR) supported a migrant football team in the annual Suburban Vicariate Youth and Young Adults (SUVY) Football Competition on July 23.

The team came together, practised, and entered the competition with only one focus in mind: winning. They worked hard to move from round to round and eventually placed second after being bested by Bourg Mulatresse.

However, although they lost the match, they were not defeated because their spirits remained high, and they celebrated the opportunity to be included.

The migrant and refugee crisis has resulted in numerous Venezuelans coming to the shores of Trinidad and Tobago. Initially, we saw high levels of xenophobia and resistance but as the years have progressed, we are beginning to see areas of integration.

Although xenophobia is still an issue, we are seeing more social gatherings and sporting activities beginning to include the migrant population. This is important because it allows for spaces where conversations can occur and where the realities of this group of marginalised people can be expressed.

Creating spaces for integration allows for more understanding and assists in eradicating opinions, ideas and stereotypes that can be a danger to the migrant population. The SUVY football competition was an example of a space that allowed for this to occur.

Sport remains one of the major areas of integration and community across the globe. At the last Olympics, there was the inclusion of a refugee team, which gave people a sense of belonging and aligned with our Catholic duty to create stronger communities.

Even locally, many sporting competitions are beginning to include migrants and refugees. The football competition is one of the first within the local Catholic community to include a youth migrant and refugee team. They were grateful for the opportunity to showcase their talents and it gave them the chance to show their love for the sport.

The resilience of the team reflects the resilience of the migrant and refugee population. Attempting to create a life in an unknown land is difficult and sometimes these simple competitions go a long way in helping the population, especially the young people, to return to some sense of normalcy. It gives them dignity and helps to build the common good.

In a world plagued by hate, discrimination, poverty and other social ills, sport can be a healing force. It allows for healthy competition and encourages cohesiveness and teamwork, especially amongst the younger generations. Sport is a universal language that connects people across religion, race, culture, and nationality.

I hope that we can improve our sporting systems and facilities here in Trinidad and Tobago. The maintenance of our sporting grounds and support for community-based sporting teams is essential as we strive toward promoting more social cohesion and integration across the country.

Sport has been an important part of the lives of many marginalised people since it gives them purpose and hope. Sport has also been used as a psychosocial tool, helping many young people in troubled situations to progress forward and focus their efforts on improving themselves and in many instances their community.

As we strive toward building more inclusive communities, sporting events like the SUVY competition allows for the gathering of young people from different walks of life.

We are happy that the migrant team got the opportunity to showcase their talents and we look forward to more inclusivity and social cohesion within all events across Trinidad and Tobago.

This is a step in the right direction and shows the welcoming spirit of Trinidadians. May the Holy Spirit continue to be with us.


“In the depths of every heart, love creates bonds and expands existence, for it draws people out of themselves and towards others.[65] Since we were made for love, in each one of us “a law of ekstasis” seems to operate: “the lover ‘goes outside’ the self to find a fuller existence in another”.[66] For this reason, “man always has to take up the challenge of moving beyond himself” (88)

– Pope Francis, Fratelli Tuitti.

CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee