A team flying the Antigua and Barbuda flag in England became the first Caribbean football team to win the Inner City World Cup.
The Inner City World Cup launched in 1994 in the East End of London was designed to encourage multicultural grassroots players to represent their origins in the UK. The tournament has been running for 25 years with over 30 tournaments and 85 countries being represented in London, Liverpool, New York and now Leicester.
On Sunday 28th July, 2019, Leicester hosted its first Inner City World Cup at Victoria Park, London Road as part of a nationally-run project celebrating diversity and promoting community integration.
Despite torrential rain, 184 players from 16 countries representing Leicester-based grassroots football teams turned out in a powerful show of togetherness and solidarity but it would the Antigua and Barbuda team who eventually triumphed, beating Ghana 1-0 in the finals ahead of the weekend’s Leicester Caribbean Carnival.
The Antigua and Barbuda team was brought together and formed by a local businessmen, Learie Gonsalves (Director of One Building Solution Ltd), Cheddi Gore (National Community Engagement Manager at Sports England), Jorrin John (former Leicester City and Antigua and Barbuda National team player), and Vince john (Under 17’s Manager at Stoneygate Lions FC).
Gonsalves, who acted as team secretary said “that all the players live and where born in the inner city and he felt that them taking part and winning the tournament has been a huge and positive achievement as it gives a better balanced view of youth activity in the Inner City. It has also provided a great sense of pride for the players of their heritage along with the coming together of the Leicester Community’.
Mark Abery, founder of the Inner City World Cup, an event growing across the UK, said: “What a memorable day – we were privileged to have been able to bring The Inner City World Cup to Leicester which showcased the city for the wonderfully warm and diverse place it is.
Former Leicester City FC Captain Matt Elliot, who supported and helped launch the event, added: “Well done to Antigua and Barbuda but more than the actual winners, The Inner City World Cup has celebrated our community spirit and brought together everyone from all different walks of life and so many nationalities centrally in Vicky Park – its brilliant.”
Former Leicester City FC and England Striker, Emile Heskey said: “It’s a wonderful set upthey’ve achieved with the Inner-City World Cup. I’m so proud that the country of my parents heritage, Antigua and Barbuda won the first tournament held in Leicester. Keep up the good work.”
Antigua and Barbuda’s High Commissioner Karen-Mae Hill extended congratulations to the team and commended the organisers for bringing Antiguans and Barbudans in the diaspora together.
“The Government of Antigua and Barbuda supports wholesome activities like this which beyond the goal of winning, achieve their greatest success by bringing our community together and projecting positive news about our shared identity and heritage as Antiguans and Barbudans,” she said.