Guardiola Sala Foundation surprise winning football team
published on 18 Nov 2022
Guardiola Sala Foundation surprise winning football team from North West Refugee Resettlement Service
A winning football team of men supported by The Salvation Army in Blackpool, received a surprise video call from Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola last week.
Pep and his family’s humanitarian charity, the Guardiola Sala Foundation (GSF), arranged for each player to receive a personalised Manchester City shirt signed by the squad as a memento of their success in this year’s Partnership Trophy, an annual five-a-side football tournament run by The Salvation Army for people who are homeless, including refugees, and survivors of modern slavery.
The football team, known as Blue Nile, was supported by The Salvation Army’s Refugee Resettlement Service in the North West, and defeated 20 other teams from across the UK to lift the trophy in September.
The Guardiola Sala Foundation has supported the Partnership Trophy since 2019, donating football kit to the players, paying travelling expenses which enable teams to attend from across the UK, and arranging for special guests to come and cheer on the players. Guests who have delighted the players included Pep Guardiola, and this year, rival Manchester United manager, Erik Ten Hag. They met the players and watched some of the matches.
Alexandra Foden, no relation to Manchester City star midfielder, Phil, oversees The Salvation Army’s resettlement scheme in the area and arranged for the men to receive coaching from AFC Fylde Community Foundation to improve their wellbeing as they start over.
Capturing the delight of the players and the impact of the support from the Guardiola Sala Foundation, she said:
“I’d like to thank GSF for giving the lads from our team the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing day. We’ve seen tremendous progress in their confidence since then, and today’s surprise was extra special and has given them another important boost.
“It can be very difficult for people to flee their home country and move to another country where they don’t know anyone and can feel very isolated. The Partnership Trophy football tournament helped these lads to feel a sense of belonging and part of our society. They were so excited to meet Erik Ten Hag, and words cannot express how they felt when they lifted the trophy.”
Mohammed represented his fellow teammates from Blue Nile by speaking directly to Pep Guardiola on the call when he said: “I’d like to thank you for being part of the football tournament. I really enjoyed meeting so many people from different backgrounds with different languages and making new friends. I would love the opportunity to come and visit you at the Manchester City stadium. Thank you so much for my football shirt.”
Mohammed went on to explain that he had scored 17 of Blue Nile’s 21 goals in the tournament, to which Pep quipped that he might have better statistics than Erling Haaland before congratulating the whole team.
Pep said: “It’s so encouraging to witness how football can bring people together and help them overcome really tough personal challenges. The Guardiola Sala Foundation is delighted to be a part of this event and support the amazing work of The Salvation Army in giving people skills, opportunities and confidence to rebuild their lives.”