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One ticket, all-American memories for recent arrivals

By - Jul 15, 2017

By Simran Dave/for The Sporting Nation
Photo courtesy of North Phoenix Christian Soccer Club

Fútbol. Calcio. Nogomet. Soccer. Whatever fans around the world call it, the most popular sport on the planet has the ability to bring people together, and a fan-driven program in Phoenix, Arizona is proving it.
“Rising in America” is a non-profit program created by Odeen Domingo, a supporter of U.S. Soccer. The program donates game tickets to refugees living in Phoenix so that they can attend the matches of the city’s professional soccer club, Phoenix Rising FC.  
Rising in America has partnered with the team so that fans can buy discounted home game tickets for refugees, at $10 each. Along with Phoenix Rising FC, the program has also partnered with the Welcome to America Project and Uber Arizona.
Domingo said he first got the idea to start the program by combining his two passions, soccer and helping others.
I’ve always wanted to do something with refugees in Phoenix and Phoenix's professional soccer club, which has had many iterations,” Domingo said. “I knew that most refugees came from soccer-loving countries so there was a good chance that the refugees in Phoenix loved soccer as well.”
Domingo decided that he wanted to figure out a way to help refugees feel welcomed in the United States while also engaging the soccer community in Phoenix.
“We already have the commonality of rallying the hometown club, but what if we came together to use that passion to be inclusive and do something tangible to help others?” said Domingo. “The results could be phenomenal and the layers of positive outcomes from those actions could be infinite.”
Many of the refugees that come to the United States are young adults who arrive to a foreign country without many friends. Rising in America helps them connect with new faces and a new country.
For Saif Algbur, a 17-year-old from Iraq who aspires to become a soccer star, witnessing a live soccer game was a dream come true. But it was also a way to learn about American culture.
“Going to the game kind of helped me learn how the people act here and what they do,” Algbur said. “It helps me transition.”
Algbur’s new friend, 15-year-old Win Bar from Thailand, said his family left so that he could take advantage of the opportunities that America holds. Bar said that the program helped him make friends, but also said the sport itself weaves people together.
“It connects us and brings us together,” Bar said. “When we first came, we didn’t know anybody. When we played soccer together and went to games we got to know each other and then became friends.”
Bar said that soccer is powerful and without it, he wouldn’t be where he is now.
“Soccer is really important,” Bar said. “If it wasn’t for soccer, things would be really different.”



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