You might call the All Black Football Club “Hong Kong’s first African amateur club”, but what makes them truly special is the background of the club members who – as refugees – have found a new home in Hong Kong. Established in May 2016, All Black FC have been playing friendly games against a diverse range of local teams, including sides from the Hong Kong Premier League. Since then, the refugee team has steadily improved, holding the professional club BC Glory Sky to a 3-3 draw in October 2016.
Given their quality on the pitch as well as their positive and friendly attitude in competitive games, All Black FC have become a sought-after team to compete with. But the significance of this club goes far beyond the football pitch…
One of the founders of All Black FC is Medard Koya, who first came to Hong Kong in 2007, not as a refugee, but as a volunteer of an international camp. He eventually settled down in 2011 and is working as a football coach in Hong Kong, China, and the Philippines. But it is his very personal experience that connected him with the refugees in the city.
Over the years, he learnt about the problem of discrimination in the city, the downsides of integration and all the difficulties and hurdles along the way. So, if he has made all these painful experiences, how difficult must life be for people who have fled their home?
All Black FC believes in the power of football as a common language that can bridge social, cultural, and ethnic differences. We are all united in our joy and respect for life – and in the belief that all humans are born equal.
All Black FC is about more than just “play”: It is a place for learning, discipline, and communication. And most importantly, it has offered many of the refugees a new perspective in life. Through that, the club hopes to make a contribution that refugees have the strength to resist forces that want to exploit their misery, as most of them are still left alone in their everyday struggles for survival.
Perspective and Hope
For the team members of All Black FC, the football club has become a second family. They share responsibility, organize trainings, and get the chance to engage with the wider community.
All Black FC consists entirely of refugees who have been seeking asylum in the city. In fact, the team members come from all over Africa, including Republic of Congo, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, Nigeria, Somalia, Cameroon, Togo, Tanzania, Gabon, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Liberia. However, being barred from both labor and housing market, and given no chance to study, many of them have been waiting for years to have their cases heard. A time that can be extremely excruciating. On the one hand refugees are expected to integrate into society, on the other hand public efforts to tackle social segregation are almost non-existing.
Since its establishment, All Black FC has actively reached out to engage with the wider community. Some of the projects include workshops and seminars at local universities. They also started to set up a network with other ethnic minority teams in the city, with the ultimate goal to have recurring competitions following a common cause of inclusion, tolerance, and friendship.
Given the limited resources, All Black FC appreciates any kind of cooperation and sponsorship that could help the development and maintenance of the club.