An image of the team Dalkurd FF during a game. Credit: Dalkurd FF
An image of the team Dalkurd FF during a game. Credit: Dalkurd FF

A football team set up as a social project 13 years ago will play this year in Sweden's top league, Allsvenskan. The club Dalkurd FF was created by nine Kurdish migrants and has grown to represent the hope of millions of Kurds worldwide to claim their identity through sports.

British newspaper The Guardian reported that the team was created in 2004 as a social project. "My body is in Sweden, but my thoughts and dreams are still in my home country, because I didn't leave by free will," the team's co-founder and president, Ramazan Kizil, told the newspaper.

Kizil arrived in Sweden in 1989 from the Turkish Kurdish region. "My people are still there and they are in trouble. You can't just turn your back on them. It's very personal," he said.

The project was created to show how the Kurdish community could contribute to society. "Before coming here, we didn't know the feeling of a night's sleep without fear. You could be arrested, shot or tortured at any given minute. We thought: what can we, as Kurds, human beings and parents do for the society that has given us so incredibly much?"

A 'national' team for Kurdish people worldwide

Young Kurds started training with other players from Swedish team IK Brage, the main club of the city of Borlage, where the project is based. They trained every day for two hours and started playing in Sweden's lowest division. "Our principle is that all the people in the club, from a six-year-old player to the chairman, should have a dialogue and care about each other. We are creating a family," Kizil stressed.

Today, that family has become a Swedish team with the Kurdish flag on its players' jerseys - a sort of national team for the Kurdish people, members said. "With the Kurdish flag on our chest it became more and more like a national team," Peshraw Azizi, who arrived in Sweden from Kurdistan when he was 12 and now heads the team, told the daily.

"When I first came here, the club wasn't as big as it is today. We have fought together to make it grow," said Keya Izol, the president of the Kurdish national association in Sweden "Kurdiska Riksforbundet," which is among the team's supporters.

"It's our national team," he said. "The team's success is of major importance for Kurds in Sweden and in Europe."

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