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About us

What is World United?

The project is an intercultural football project targeting:

Refugees and Asylum Seekers

People from Black and Minority Ethnic Groups

Local Catholics and Protestants Players/Volunteer interested in the promotion of Good Relations

CREATED and supported by the Irish Football Association as part of their Football For All campaign, World United is an intercultural football team based in Belfast . 

The team is now more diverse than ever with players from countries across the world including Portugal , Qatar , the Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe .

Developed to promote respect through the medium of football, in September 2008 the project achieved its own independence. 

The scheme is supported by the Irish FA, Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities, Northern Ireland Community Relations Council, UEFA, Belfast City Council’s Good Relations Unit and the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation.

Its goals are unwavering; to increase the participation of people form ethnic minorities into local football, and provide an environment free from racism, sectarianism and discrimination. The Players have delivered anti-racism workshops in partnership with the PSNI and IFA throughout Belfast . Research and evaluation of the project suggest it is making a significant difference promoting respect for diversity. In 2006 Ulster TV commissioned a short World United film to share the story. This film is regularly shown on Ulster Television and has helped raise the profile of the project.

The team’s captain, Aruna Djalo, was attracted to it because of the “sense of getting involved in something.”  Djalo himself testifies that it has a beneficial impact on his life, helping foster a sense of community.  He said that “it has managed to keep the same people involved all these years.”  He also revealed that it has opened a lot of doors for him into the local community and local football.  “If it wasn't for this project I probably still wouldn't be involved in football,” he said.

In order to formalise the structures, a committee was established.  Meeting monthly to focus on the strategies needed to move forward, it is hoped that this centralisation of decision making will improve the marketability of the club.

One thing that is accepted is that greater publicity is needed. There are 22 players in the World United team, but they hope to expand the squad.  Ideally, they would like a squad big enough to field two teams, meaning that the increased competition for places would help nurture the skill base.  In order to facilitate this welcome packs are being developed that will explain and sell the concept, and these packs will be distributed throughout Northern Ireland to bring it to the attention of everyone.

They also hope to identify similar teams and organisations, sourcing consensus and developing permanent connections with a number of partners.  World United currently has links to Ethnos, an intercultural team from Dungannon and SARI (Sport Against Racism Ireland ), an organisation based in Dublin .

Djalo believes that the future is bright for World United.  Having come from abroad, he is aware how difficult it is to settle in a new country, coming to terms with different cultures and how hard is to make friendships.  He hopes the “project will continue to give more opportunities to people.”

Former Northern Ireland Internationals Mal Donaghy and Ian Stewart have supported World United with Master class coaching sessions.

World United is waiting on a patent that guarantees them copyright infringement on the brand, name and logo.  A fluid and refreshing initiative that has developed on the back of a non discriminatory ethos, World United looks set to become a fundamental part of the community.


Who are the partners involved?

Partners and their Roles in World United

Irish Football Association – the Irish Football Association originally set up the World United project in partnership with the Northern Ireland Committee of Refugees and Asylum Seekers and the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities in 2003 as part of it’s Football For All Project to help encourage more people from ethnic minorities to become involved in the sport of Football in Northern Ireland. The project went from strength to strength, and in September 2008 World United set up as a stand alone organisation using the sport of Football to promote positive Interculturalism. The Irish Football Association’s Football For All Community Relations Department continues to support World United as a partner in its mission of Football For All. For example the Irish Football Association have provided Coaches, Footballs, Bibs, Cones, Pitches, Kit, Boots, Shin guards, Buses, promotional materials, free Coaching qualifications, anti-racism workshops and Referees . The Irish Football Association would sign post Players from World United to appropriate teams to help integrate Players into existing leagues and would provide work experience, volunteering experience and highlight appropriate courses which might benefit World United Players, for example, English language courses being delivered for free by community groups.

Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM) – NICEM provides facilities and resources to help facilitate the World United Project. For example most World United Committee meetings take place in the NICEM office in Belfast . A significant number of the World United Players found out about World United through NICEM and NICEM have delivered anti-racism workshops via World United.

Northern Ireland Committee of Refugee and Asylum Seekers (NICRAS) – World United was created when NICRAS contacted the Irish Football Association for support in 2003. Recently NICRAS have brought 20 new Players to the World United Project.

Police Service Northern Ireland – The PSNI Community Affairs Branch in North Belfast have been a valued partner of World United over the last 12 months providing transport and support for Players. For example throughout May and June 2009 the PSNI provided a free bus for World United Players so they could attend training. World United Players have delivered anti-racism workshops for the PSNI with cross community youth groups in North Belfast .

UEFA – UEFA, the European governing body of football have highlighted World United as a model of good practice.

Belfast City Council’s Good Relations Unit have supported World United with a small grant to research the success of the project and the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council small grants scheme have also supported various aspects of the development of World United over the last 6yrs.

Who currently core funds World United?

World United was core funded by the Irish Football Association as part of the EU Football For All Project from 2003-2008. Today World United is core funded by Awards For All via the Big Lottery and Sport NI.