In partnership with the Ethiopian Community Development Council, L.A.C.E.S. will be co-sponsoring a soccer tournament to commemorate World Refugee Day, a globally recognized holiday on June 20th of every year. In an effort to promote community integration and advocacy for refugees, this event will provide refugees and the greater D.C. area an opportunity to engage with one another and foster positive cross-cultural interaction.
The soccer tournament will be held Sunday, June 11 at West Potomac Park near the Martin Luther King Jr. Monument from 11 am – 5 pm. Teams participating in the tournament will be comprised of a mix of ten refugees and community members at least thirteen years of age.
“This soccer tournament will be a great experience for both refugee children and their families as well as the community at large to come together and learn more about one another,” as noted by Kristin Henderson, who works directly with L.A.C.E.S.
The United Nations General Assembly first observed World Refugee Day on June 20, 2001 to honor the perseverance and strength of the men, women and children forced to flee their homes under threat of conflict, persecution, and violence. In 2015 alone, over 65 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced from their home and less than 1% of all the world’s refugees were resettled. In fiscal year 2016, the U.S. resettled nearly 85,000 refugees. Since Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980, which created the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program, 3 million refugees have resettled in America. Refugees flee from countries all over the world. Refugees resettling in the D.C. Metro Area come from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Eritrea, Birundi, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, El Salvador, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
L.A.C.E.S. (Life and Change Experienced thru Sport) works with refugee youth from 14 different countries in the Washington D.C. area. By providing sports camps, access to leagues and with an aim for long-term programming, L.A.C.E.S. encourages refugee integration, promotes positive development and alleviates some of the challenges refugee children face during the early stages of resettlement.