Plea for financial help to play in Ethkick
Palmerston North’s Karen community is hoping its Cinderella team can go to the ball - the national Ethkick tournament of football that is.
Made up of former refugees who have settled in the city from Myanmar, the Kaw Thu Lay Brothers have won the Manawatū Ethkick football tournament two years in a row.
However, a lack of money is hindering their efforts to get to the national finals in Auckland.
Team spokesman Eh Taw Sa said local winners of the February tournament get to represent the region at the national seven-a-side Ethkick Cup in November.
Last year the team attended the Manukau event and won the plate section.
This year, the 19-strong squad is again hoping to represent Palmerston North at the Manukau contest against 45 other teams from around the country.
‘‘They want to make the city proud, but it is too much for our community,’’ Sa said.
Costs for entry, playing strips, transport, food and budget accommodation for the players and their coach are estimated at $3500.
Fortunately, the mayor’s discretionary fund helped out on Thursday, providing the $400 entry fee and $500 worth of petrol vouchers towards travel costs.
Mayor Grant Smith said the city had also come up with Wildbase shirts for the team to play in, and the Manawatū Multicultural Centre had set up a Givealittle page to attract $2500 to cover the rest of the costs.
Sa said the Karen community had spent its funds this year on supporting cultural and dance programmes for its young people, and on setting up a women’s group.
She said they were shy about asking for financial help. Though they had worked hard they had run out of time to get enough together to support the footballers.
Ethkick is a Palmerston North invention, established by former mayor Heather Tanguay in 2009 to promote diversity and intercultural friendship through football.
In 2013 Palmerston North’s Ethkick was recognised by the Human Rights Commission with a National Diversity Award for its outstanding contribution to community development and promotion of cultural diversity.
It has grown to be the biggest ethnic football tournament in New Zealand, quickly catching on in other centres.
Members of the winning 2017 Ethkick football team made up from members of Palmerston North’s Karen community, former Myanmar refugees.