New free sessions at Rochdale Football Club bringing newcomers together

Date published: 11 July 2023

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New free sessions at Rochdale Football Club are helping bring newcomers to the borough together through football.

Hope Football, which runs on a Wednesday afternoon, is a mixed adult's team for anyone new to the borough, including refugees and those seeking sanctuary.

It is being run by Rochdale AFC Community Trust's inclusion co-ordinator Liz Cotterill and coach Emma, after they identified a gap in the community.

Liz said: “As part of my role as inclusion co-ordinator at Rochdale AFC Community Trust, I visit different groups in the community, share all our activities and find out how we can support those existing groups, as well as talk to people about the gaps that might be there.

“One gap was free football for people who were new to Rochdale, refugees and those seeking sanctuary.

“I had done a lot of work around supporting refugees in my previous roles, and supporting with Home Office applications, so I knew some of the barriers faced.

“One big one is that they have no funds and nowhere to play and that all of them hoped to play football again.”



Hope has been running for about one month, with seven attendees the first week.

Now there are 22 players of 13 different nationalities.

Liz added: “We open it up to being focused on people who are new to Rochdale, rather than refugees or asylum seekers.

“Hope Football is important to me because I am passionate about enabling people to be independent and supporting them to be themselves. Hope Football has given people something positive back in their times of sadness.”

Hope Football sessions take place at the Crown Oil Arena kick pitch from 5pm-6pm on Wednesday afternoons.

People aged 18+ can sign up online:

For more information, please contact Liz Cotterill:

Haitham is from Iraq and used to play in his regional team and was well on his way to play for the national team when war broke out

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