To mark World Refugee Day, RIFA, Goal Click and Danish sportswear brand hummel have teamed up on a project to showcase the role of soccer in creating dialogue in a divided world. Three players from RIFA (Rooklyn International Football Association) - a Brooklyn-based organisation working with refugee, asylee, and immigrant youth through soccer - told the inside story of their lives and experiences with RIFA and New York City over the course of two months in 2019. The collaboration is part of the 5683 campaign, aimed at finding common ground and a simple faith in humanity across the divide. Samuel Gedeon is originally from Haiti, moving to New York City in 2015, before joining Rooklyn in 2017.
Who is in these photos? Do any of them have interesting stories?
The photos were taken from Crown Heights soccer field. Most of the people are Rooklyn's 2018/19 U19 players with their coaches and some bystanders playing in the background. The girls are in the Rooklyn girl's team, and there is also a boy who received a ball from Rooklyn's social action project.
What did you try to show with the photos? Was there any wider meaning with the photos?
I tried to show how passion for soccer has brought immigrants from different countries together and created a community. Since they are from different countries they have learned something from each other, they start to think differently, and they are helping communities through social action projects.
Can you tell us your personal story? Did you play football before you came to the USA?
I'm from Haiti, where I discovered one of my biggest passions, which is soccer. I used to play soccer in the streets, futsal, and I had joined some clubs and played real soccer a few times with my friends. Sometimes with my friends we organized some street games with other neighbourhoods. In 2015 I moved to NYC with the hopes of finding a good soccer team, but when I came everyone played basketball. With determination in 2017 I found Rooklyn.
Why did you leave your country?
I left my country because I wanted to reach my dream, which is to become a diplomat, and also to live with my family.
What is your favourite photo?
Coach Prospero and Coach Felix were the people I met when I first came to Rooklyn, and they were also the ones helping me getting new skills. There was a time when all the players of the team were getting jobs and leaving the team and sometimes it was only three of us practicing.
Why is football important for you and your community?
Football is important to me because it's about competing and competition is something I really like. I also like soccer because through it you can travel, collaborate, and have unforgettable moments.
How has RIFA/LIU changed your life?
RIFA has changed my life because before Rooklyn, during holiday time and on Saturdays I always stayed home and did nothing besides homework for school. I never went outside and got stressed. But when I go to Rooklyn during my free time I get to play soccer, do social action projects, and play games. Football helps me to meet new people and visit places.
Do you play football now with any Americans? How do you find the American people?
I do not play soccer with Americans, but I get to play with Mexicans, Africans and Arabic people. They are passionate as Haitians.
What ambitions do you have for the future?
My ambition for the future is to win a soccer tournament.