PETALING JAYA, Aug 12 — In a strong social message, a multiracial football team has come out with a jersey to promote Malaysian unity and address racism here.
Project Football Rakyat’s manager Vince Tan said the football jersey featuring the slogan “Say No To Racism” is part of its “Red Card Against Racism” campaign that was launched in September 2015.
“Together we send out messages like our theme ‘Red Card Against Racism’ so that all Malaysians can come together amid the racism and extremism that is spreading in the country and play a sport that unites all of us,” he said during the launch here. today
Tan noted that the jersey’s colours — black and white for when the team is playing on home ground and away respectively — shows that Malaysians should come together to unite and not be divided by race.
The jersey will be an additional physical symbol of the football team’s fight against racism, on top of the red card currently used by its members in a creative and unconventional way during football matches.
“At the end of the match or during the match, we will take out this red card to symbolise the Red Card Against Racism, sending the message that we want to send out racism in the game as well as in society,” he told reporters, referring to the penalty card that dismisses players who have committed a misconduct from the field.
Tan said the first batch of this jersey — about 60 shirts — will be sold to Project Football Rakyat members first at RM30 to enable them to wear it for matches with the community, noting that it was produced at a cost of over RM1,800.
The jerseys were funded by a RM2,000 grant that Project Football Rakyat won from advocacy group Pusat Komas last November through the latter’s first-ever “Battling Racism in Malaysia: Innovation Towards Unity” competition.
“We are wearing it with the Pusat Komas logo in matches to come, now we are like partners with Pusat Komas to fight racism in Malaysia.
“Maybe in the future when we produce more we will sell it to the public,” he said, adding that the funds generated through the sale of the football jersey would be used for the team’s programmes, equipment and for transport to matches.
Tan said Project Football Rakyat was founded in September 2015 to bring together a star-studded team of football players from various backgrounds, noting that it has over 40 players now including lawyer Edmund Bon, Universiti Malaya’s senior law lecturer Azmi Sharom, DAP youth executive secretary Muhammad Shakir Ameer and Gerakan deputy youth chief Andy Yong.
“Usually our campaigning methods will be social media and personal campaign, ask more people to join us our game and to set a precedent for them to follow suit.
“Show them that we can come together, why can’t you come together? Because we have people from Gerakan, from DAP, coming to play together, we put aside political differences, we put aside race and religion, what unites us is more than what divides us; so we set the example, hopefully others can follow suit,” he said.
Tan said the team has played about seven matches with various local football clubs and community groups, including the Universiti Malaya law faculty’s football club which they have sparred against thrice and an international school’s football club.
“We play with students because they are young, we can spread ideals to them to unite, against civil society groups, local football teams, and upcoming hopefully we can get a date to play with Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement,” he said.
“This year we are planning to organise another special Malaysia Day match and we hope to continue our campaign to promote unity with football,” he said.
Project Football Rakyat recruits new members once every six months but anyone is welcome to join by contacting them through their Facebook page.