Thursday 08 August 2019, 14:07

SARI tackling racism throughout the Emerald Isle

  • SARI is an NGO committed to integration, inclusion and cohesion in Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and abroad

  • With the help of the FIFA Foundation it uses the power of football to combat discrimination

  • Former international manager on the organisation's board

‘Positive integration and social inclusion through sport’ is the mantra of Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI).

Partly funded by the FIFA Foundation, SARI is committed to promoting and supporting cultural integration, social inclusion and cohesion in Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and abroad.

The organisation uses football as a medium to combat racism, sectarianism, xenophobia, homophobia and all other forms of discrimination.

SARI was established in 1997 as a direct response to the growth of racist attacks from a small but vocal section of people on the Emerald Isle after a dramatic increase in the number of foreign nationals living there.

Since then SARI has organised footballing events, programmes and activities across the island as a method of breaking down social barriers, combating prejudice and bringing people together.

Its patrons include high-profile names such as renowned fashion designer John Rocha, writer and dub poet Benjamin Zephaniah, while former Republic of Ireland manager Brian Kerr is one of several board members.

Those who benefit from the work of the non-profit organisation include youths from working class or disadvantaged backgrounds, refugees and those seeking asylum throughout Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Events such as the weekly SARI Soccernites give free weekly football training sessions for boys and girls aged 14-18 in north inner-city Dublin, while educational programmes such as the Hijab and Hat-Tricks Project use the power of football to promote equality, diversity and unity in Irish secondary schools.

The initiative is perhaps best known, though, for hosting the annual SARI Soccerfest, Ireland’s largest intercultural seven-a-side football tournament, which typically attracts over 4,000 people and which will be celebrating its 23rd edition this September.

Speaking at a past Soccerfest, former Republic of Ireland and Faroe Islands manager Kerr said: "SARI's greatest strength and experience is in organising and delivering inter-cultural sports events that allow people to learn about their similarities rather than call out the differences and playing sport is one of the best ways to break down boundaries and promote inclusion. That's why I am inviting people to come down to see high quality competitive seven-a-side football."

SARI is one of a number of organisations supported by the FIFA Foundation's Community Programme.