This is an inclusive football tournament for Norwich primary schools. Teams will be made up of players of all gender identities and the participants will be pupils from Years 3, 4 and 5 who rarely participate in sport or who don’t usually represent their school at sports events. The emphasis will be on fun, fair play and inclusion.


The tournament is being held to mark ‘Football Welcomes’, an Amnesty International initiative that celebrates the contribution refugee players have made, and continue to make, to the beautiful game.


Football welcomes refugees

Refugee footballers have been making their mark on the world’s most popular game for decades. Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka, Chelsea’s Victor Moses and Manchester City Women’s Nadia Nadim are among those currently playing in the UK. They follow in the footsteps of Spanish Civil War child refugees who sailed from Bilbao to Southampton in 1937, six of whom went on to be the first refugees to play professionally in the 1940s and 1950s.


Football clubs are at the heart of our communities, where people come together on and off the pitch. For many footballers with a refugee background, the game helps them adjust to a new country and culture, and gives them a sense of belonging and purpose. It was definitely important for those Spanish refugees.


Amnesty International’s Football Welcomes campaign highlights the contribution refugees have  made  to football  and  to communities  in  the  UK and encourages communities to welcome and support people fleeing conflict and persecution.


Over the weekend of 20-21st April 2018, 60 football clubs across the country – from the Premier League to grassroots refugee teams – laid aside their rivalries and came together to celebrate Football Welcomes. In Norfolk, 62 local schools and more than 18,000 children participated in ‘Norfolk Welcomes’. In schools across the county children learned about Norfolk’s history as a place of sanctuary and the role that football can play in welcoming refugees.


Preceding or following the tournament, participating schools are asked to hold an assembly to mark ‘Football Welcomes’. This may take any form they see fit but prior to the tournament schools will be provided with assembly materials developed by Norwich Schools of Sanctuary that they are welcome to use.


In addition participating schools may wish to use some of the following suggested lessons, resources and activities developed by Norwich Schools of Sanctuary and Amnesty International.


Interview with Norwich City FC midfielder Mario Vrančić

When Mario was a child, his family fled the civil war in Bosnia and sought sanctuary in Germany. In this video he answers questions about his life and career posed by Year 4 pupils at Avenue Junior School, Norwich. View the video and find out more about Mario Vrančić here.


Football trading cards(KS2 Art/PSHE lesson)

Children will explore the stories of displacement of some famous footballers including Norwich City FC’s Mario Vrančić before designing and creating a football trading card in their honour. Download here.


Amnesty International Activity Pack: Football Welcomes Refugees (KS2&KS3)

This resource has been designed to support teachers to encourage discussion about refugee rights and to celebrate the contribution that people of refugee backgrounds have made to the UK, especially to football. Download here.


Each school will bring a mixed gender squad of 10-12 players from Year 3, 4 and 5. The competition will be a round robin format with a final and third place play-off. This is an inclusive football tournament for pupils who rarely participate in sport or who don’t usually represent their school at sports events. The emphasis will be on fun, fair play and inclusion.


  1. Wensum Junior School
  2. Avenue Junior School
  3. Angel Road Junior School
  4. Magdalen Gates Primary School
1 v 2 3 v 4
1 v 3 2 v 4
2 v 3 1 v 4
Final: 1stplaced v 2ndplace Third place play off



The following rules of the competition are to be adhered to at all times by players, spectators, and team officials. Please ensure that you take some time to familiarise with these rules.

  • The matches will be 7 or 9 aside depending on the allocated pitch.
  • Each team will play all the other teams in a league format. 3 points will be awarded for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 points for a loss. The top two teams will then play a final.
  • In the event of teams finishing on the same points the positions will be determined through goal difference, goals scored and then head to head.
  • Each match will be twenty minutes (2X10 minutes).
  • All players should wear shin pads.
  • If one team is leading by a margin of 2 goals then they must withdraw one player from their team to give the other side an advantage.
  • All teams will shake hands before and after each match.
  • The substitutions are on a roll on roll off basis, however, the referee must be notified when making a change
  • All players can enter the penalty area
  • Only the Goalkeeper can handle the ball in their area
  • Goalkeepers cannot kick the ball out of their hands, all other methods of distribution are allowed
  • If the ball goes out of play it must be rolled back in.
  • There is no head height rule




The Canaries FC logo

Norwich City FC has had a strong connection to refugee histories ever since its formation in 1902. From the Strangers of the 16th century all the way up to the players of today, refugees have made valuable contributions to the Canaries. Here are some of their stories.



The Canaries

In the 16th century, a large number of refugees fleeing religious persecution in the Low Countries settled in Norwich. This group, who became known as the Strangers, brought their pet canaries with them. Canary breeding was originally associated with the weaving industry, to which the Strangers were key contributors. By the early 18th century canary breeding had become a popular pastime in Norwich and the City had developed its own varieties, such as the Norwich Canary. Norwich City was formed in 1902, and by 1905 the team were already being referred to as “the Canaries” in the local press. City had originally played in pale blue and white shirts, but switched to yellow shirts in 1907. The club then adopted the Canary as its badge in 1922 when a supporter made a set of canary badges which were sewn onto the players’ shirts.

Joe (José) and Tony (Antonio) Gallego


Jose Gallego

Jose Gallego

José and Antonio Gallego came to Britain as Basque refugees in 1937 after their father was killed during the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. They spent time in children’s homes in Cambridge and worked on local farms, which was when they started to learn to play football. The brothers played for opposing Cambridge teams, and on one occasion they faced each other when United, with Tony in goal, beat Town 7-2, with Joe on the left wing. Tony signed professionally as goalkeeper for Norwich City during the 1946/47 season. Joe went on to play for Brentford, Southampton and Colchester, while Tony also played for Canterbury City and Biggleswade Town. He also made an emergency appearance for Margate, and was only able to play when a telegraph boy arrived ten minutes before kick-off with his paperwork. The team went on to beat Dartford 7-0 in the Kent Senior Shield match. They both lived the rest of their lives in Cambridge, Joe dying at 83 in 2006 and Tony in 2015 aged 90. ‘Football meant everything to us; it was the only thing we knew about,’ Tony told El Pais in 2012. ‘We got attached to Cambridge and made a lot of friends here through playing football.


Mario Vrančić

Image of footballer, Mario Vrančić
Central midfielder, Mario Vrančić

Mario was born in Brod in Bosnia, one of the first towns to be hit by conflict when the Bosnian war broke out in 1992. Mario’s parents fled to Germany before the war began, his father going first to look for work, while Mario followed later with his mother. He cannot remember the details of the escape, but knows from his parents’ stories that it must have been a bad time. For a while, it was not certain that the family’s status would be recognized as war refugees, but the family received their right of residence in 1994. Mario began his football career at Mainz 05 and went on to play in Germany’s top league, the Bundesliga. He represented Germany at youth level and was part of the squad that won the 2008 European Under-19s Championships. In 2015 he made his debut for the Bosnian national team. “No one would be happier than me to play for the national team because Bosnia and Herzegovina is my homeland,” he said. “Regardless of where I would live, that Bosnian spirit and pride is always in me.” Mario signed for Norwich City FC in the summer of 2017 and is a central midfielder and a regular starter for The Canaries this season. Like the Gallego brothers, Mario’s older brother Damir is also a professional footballer and currently plays for German club FT Braunschweig.

Community work and campaigning

Norwich City FC was one of thirty clubs across the country to support Amnesty International’s Football Welcomes initiative in 2017. They have previously raised money for charities who support refugees and the club continues to work through its Community Sports Foundation with projects that engage with people coming to Norfolk for the first time. ‘The Canaries’ have been awarded Kick It Out’s Equality Standard in recognition of their work to promote equality. Parents are welcome to attend to support their children


“The Club is proud to support Amnesty’s Football Welcomes initiative – the aim of which shares our Club values of inclusivity and belonging and that wherever people come from football has the power to bring them together.”