Community: Refugee World Cup Soccer Tourney to support local refugees

With more 43 million people falling victim to the refugee crisis in the world, a local non profit is stepping up to raise awareness.

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - With more than 43 million people worldwide displaced because of conflict and persecution, Bethany Christian Services is raising awareness and support for refugee crisis by hosting it's 4th annual Refugee World Cup in Grand Rapids. 

On Saturday, June 17, local refugees and soccer players participated in the annual 12-team soccer tournament at the Gainey Athletic Complex in Grand Rapids.

The refugee players originating from 10 different countries, including Africa United (primarily Congolese), Burma, Vietnam and Sudan. Players played a total of 19 games that were shortened into 25-minute halves. 

"Anyone who has seen images from Syria recently knows the devastation refugee families – including many young children – are facing as they flee for their lives," said Christian Hawkins, Refugee Advocacy Specialist.

The Refugee World Cup is an opportunity for those locally who have been through similar circumstances to promote the importance of supporting foreign families in their greatest hour of need, while continuing to build relationships in the West Michigan community."

The Refugee World Cup is made possible through a variety of co-sponsors, including Michigan Turkey Producers, the largest employer of refugees in West Michigan.

New to this year's event, Bethany introduced a silent auction to raise funds for refugee resettlement services, along with a variety of ethnic foods from on-site vendors.

Bethany has helped resettle more than 6,700 refugee adults and children since 1975 -- the nonprofits helps refugees with medical care, education transportation and employment. 

For more information on the Refugee World Cup visit Bethany.org/grandrapids or to learn how you can help refugees visit Bethany.org/refugee.

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April Stevens is a multi-platform producer. Have a news tip? Email news@wzzm13.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter.

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