A SIX-a-side football tournament in Cardigan has raised £1,200 for local charity Croeso Teifi.

Eight teams fought it out at Cardigan leisure centre and on picking up the Cwpan undod Aberteifi trophy, Cardigan club captain Matt Leonard, said: “Football is a universal language. What a great way to show support and solidarity with those who been forced to flee their homes by getting people together to have fun.”

Croeso Teifi welcomes families fleeing war zones to a safe home in Cardigan.

Phil Moore, a keen footballer, helped organise the tournament. Before coming to Wales he and his partner had volunteered in refugee camps in Greece and France.

The tournament raised the single largest donation to Croeso Teifi. Previously the record was held by Aberporth congregation which has supported the charity over its two years of work.

As well as half-time oranges, the Syrian families now living in Cardigan provided delicious sweets and savoury snacks for all.

Clynfyw Care Farm and Kinora fielded a team as did Maesglas FC and an elite selection from Cardigan FC. One of the Syrian's, Muhanad, played in goal and he and his son have both joined local football teams – the comradeship of football being one of the things binding them to their new home.

Croeso Teifi sponsors refugees and integrates them into the life of the town. The large community group finds homes, English teachers and interpreters. They have to jump through bureaucratic hoops and raise thousands of pounds to get permission from UK government to sponsor a family.

The Syrian families now living in Cardigan are well known in the town.

Vicky Moller, charity director said: “So many locals have played a part – great or small – in their integration, we have a 'whole town welcome approach'.

“This is in stark contrast to the UK government approach which is to secretively house refugees in depressed areas without communicating with the neighbours for fear of hostility.

“Our volunteers went door to door before they arrived, to explain who was coming, provide our contact details and ask for understanding. As a result both families had the person next door as their special friend and adviser.

“Our approach means a community receives the number of people they can comfortably integrate. They arrive where they are wanted and welcomed.”

Muhanad with his wife and three children arrived 18 months ago. Two children who go to the Welsh medium schools in the town are now trilingual, speaking Welsh and English as well as their native Arabic. The toddler is learning all three languages at playgroup and at home.

Muhanad is looking for building work after completing a building course in Coleg Ceredigion.

A second family arrived this year. When they saw the team waiting for them at the airport, Ahmed said it was like coming out of prison.

Volunteer teachers provide English lessons in the morning and Ahmed volunteers in a charity shop in the afternoon.

After four months learning English from scratch they had no hesitation chatting to everyone at the match. They had stayed up until 3am the night before cooking Syrian delicacies for the 100 footballers and their supporters