Fir Park played host to around forty Syrian refugees on Saturday, all of whom watched on from the Phil O’Donnell Stand as an 82nd minute Elliott Frear winner gave fan-owned Motherwell a narrow 1-0 win in the Betfred Cup.
The guests, who now reside throughout Lanarkshire after being forced from their homes in Syria, were invited to the match by the Well Society, and were welcomed on the day by the Society Board, Fir Park staff, and Directors from Berwick Rangers, enjoying some refreshments and introductions in the stadium’s Millennium Suite before the match.
Before the game, a number of ‘Well fans gifted their scarves to the guests and at half-time the group was acknowledged by stadium announcer Phillip Speedie, with the home support responding with applause, ensuring a warm welcome from all those within the stadium.
There was also recognition of the initiative at Holyrood on Friday, as Motherwell and Wishaw MSP Clare Adamson lodged a motion at the Scottish Parliament congratulating the Society and everyone at the club for welcoming the refugees to the community.
There are around two hundred Syrian refugees now living in Lanarkshire as a result of the UK Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Peoples Resettlement Scheme which aims to resettle 20,000 refugees from camps around Syria by 2020.
Saturday’s initiative highlights the continuation of the club’s heavily community-based ethos, while signalling a greater desire by the Well Society to be involved with local people.
Commenting, the Well Society’s Jason Henderson said:
“It was a fantastic day for everybody involved – our guests appeared to have a really enjoyable day, and it was great to be able to provide the opportunity for our new neighbours to come along to Fir Park for a day out and experience a cup win for the Steelmen.”
“We were joined by a really varied group, including entire families and a number of young children, all of whom seemed to celebrate Elliott Frear’s goal just as passionately as any ‘Well fan present!”
“Both North and South Lanarkshire Councils do an excellent job of helping the new Syrian arrivals to settle in our communities but there can often be a misconception that the resettlement programmes are concerned only with the most important aspects, such as housing, education, and employment; instead, the social and recreational aspects also play a big part in these programmes and so we were delighted to be able to support that with Saturday’s initiative.”
Craig Hughes, Marketing and Communications Manager at the Well Society, added:
“On behalf of the Well Society, we would like to express our gratitude to the employees at North and South Lanarkshire Council who worked with us to make Saturday go so well, as well as a big thank you to the staff and supporters at Fir Park who ensured the day went brilliantly; and, of course, a huge thanks to our Syrian guests who got right behind the ‘Well from the first whistle to the last.”