UTAH

Refugee soccer team travels the world to share their message on community

Jul 8, 2023, 3:00 PM | Updated: 3:19 pm

Anu Arumugarasa, of Sri Lanka, left, Sutton Hull, of Park City, and Eliza Collings,ot  Alpine, hig...

Anu Arumugarasa, of Sri Lanka, left, Sutton Hull, of Park City, and Eliza Collings,ot  Alpine, high-five after scoring in a scrimmage at their #SheBelongs soccer practice at Lone Peak Park in Sandy on Thursday, July 6, 2023. #SheBelongs is a four-month program bringing together refugee and nonrefugee girls through soccer. (Megan Nielsen/Deseret News)

(Megan Nielsen/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A local soccer team creating a community here in Utah hopes their message will help create community all over the world.

#SheBelongs is a soccer team made up of 22 teen girls, half of them from refugee backgrounds. They’re heading to Auckland, New Zealand to see the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

The team is part of a program called Refugee Soccer, a series of soccer teams designed to help refugee youth get involved in their community.

The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute reports Utah is home to 60,000 refugees. The Refugee Soccer website said their goal is to support solutions to combat the losses of productivity, progress, and hope that comes from this massive displacement of people. And soccer is their secret weapon.

Founder Adam Miles started #SheBelongs to help young women refugees find community and break down gender equality walls.

(Megan Nielsen/Deseret News)

#SheBelongs will make stops in San Francisco and Tokyo before their final stop in New Zealand. During this time, they’ll play exhibitions, speak with government officials and visit refugees.

Finally, they’ll get to watch the United States play in the Women’s World Cup. Miles said this experience will allow the 11 non-refugee girls on the team to get a sense of what it’s like in a foreign country with a different culture.

On their adventure, the girls hope to inform others of the Refugee Soccer program and how it has helped them. And above all, Miles hopes that through this trip, the young girls will be empowered to reach their fullest potential. 

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Refugee soccer team travels the world to share their message on community