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Rohingya FC vs. Myanmar: a peacebuilding plan

After years of neglect in the field of politics, a group of Rohingya refugees in Kuala Lumpur has moved to the football pitch to begin building a better future for its community. For two years, the Rohingya Football Club has won friends and supporters around Malaysia for the Rohingya cause, and now, team the hopes to one day do the same in its homeland.

“The main objective of the Rohingya FC is to be a national team that represents the Rohingya people,” team chairman and co-founder Muhammad Noor told Coconuts Yangon. “We want to tell Rohingya youngsters that they can be whatever they want in the world. We want to promote the social development of our people.”

Inspired by the Olympic Refugee Team, Rohingya FC was founded in January 2015 by bringing together Rohingya football enthusiasts from around Malaysia to represent their community on a single team.

The team travels around the country when the players can afford it and plays against other amateur teams. None of the members are professional footballers; most are laborers who work during the day and train in the evening.

For the refugees who populate the team, many of whom have survived trafficking and discrimination, playing with Rohingya FC has been life-saving.

“A refugee gets no limelight,” Noor, the team chairman, said. “But Rohingya FC is giving these refugees limelight, motivation and recognition. The players have gained a mission. They have become more professional. They have been offered jobs by people they’ve met through football.”

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