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Homecoming multicultural festival
Edinburgh Referee Ab Safi shares his experiences
I had the great privilege of taking part in this year’s 7 aside multicultural festival at Toryglen, Glasgow hosted by the Scottish Football Association and Homecoming Scotland.
The SFA over the last couple of years have been working hard to promote football in all areas be in coaching, playing or volunteering throughout different minority groups in the country. Since the beginning of the season I have been liaising with the SFA’s South East Region Equity Officer Jennifer Malone to help promote refereeing to the ethnic minorities in the region. This lead to my involvement in the Multicultural Festival this year.
The tournament was held at Toryglen Regional Football Centre in Glasgow. An incredible facility with 4 11-aside outdoor pitches as well as an indoor 11-aside FIFA approved 3G pitch.
I was joined at the tournament by 3 other referees all from the Glasgow Referees Association including ex-category one and FIFA referee Bill Innes.
The tournament consisted of 12 teams from all over Scotland playing in 4 groups of 3. Each team played each other twice with the top 2 teams going through to the quarter finals. My group consisted of a Kenyan group from Aberdeen, a Pakistani team from Falkirk and an Arab team from Glasgow. It was great to see so many different groups of people from all walks of life being involved in football something that certainly didn’t happen when I was growing up.
After all the group games where played we took a small break before the quarter finals were announced. I took this opportunity to speak to Bill Innes about his experience as an official. At 64 years of age and with over 30 years’ experience as an official Bill has seen it, done it and got the medal to prove it. I learnt a lot from chatting to Bill and his love for the game whether he’s at the San Siro or just at a public park he still gets that buzz which is a great thing to see.
Whilst the quarter finals and semi-finals were getting underway so did the start of the women’s games, again this tournament showed football is for everyone no matter what sex you are.
With the quarter finals and semi-finals over I was given the great privilege to officiate the men’s final. An all Edinburgh affair between Edinburgh Uganda and last year’s winner’s Polish side Goal Machine. A great match played by two great teams, this game was played at a real high tempo and with real fight from both teams desperate to win. One goal separated the sides and it was Goal Machine who retained their title.
With the final over so was a great day of football. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the festival and it showed me just how much the sport has changed from when I was younger and how people are more accepting of others race and religion. There is still more that can be done to promote the sport throughout the minority groups, I think the SFA are taking the right steps towards that and I hope I can be a part of it.