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Football official in bid to heal rifts blighting amateur game

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: February 25, 2014

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A BURTON football official is hoping to use the beautiful game to heal fractures that have appeared in the town’s amateur leagues.

Teams and members of the public are being invited to take part in a marathon football tournament next month to raise money for Syrian orphans.

But as well as helping the victims of the war-ravaged nation, Ifzal Ahmed, a secretary in the Pedigree/Tag League, is also hoping the event can be used to re-unite the town’s amateur game which has been dogged by negative headlines.

In recent months, the game has switched from the back pages to the front, with the most alarming incident coming when a referee was seriously injured after being headbutted by a player.

Dave Clarke, who has officiated games in Burton for 37 years, was left with a fractured cheekbone and spent two days in hospital.

That came only weeks after a player was hospitalised when a mass brawl broke out during a game between Rec FC and Real Medina B at Burton’s Anglesey Road recreation ground.

Mr Ahmed is now hoping the teams from across the town will rally around for a good cause and show the league in a more positive light.

The tournament will be held at Derby’s Soccerdome on March 9, with teams of seven being encouraged to sign up.

Mr Ahmed has already raised around £12,000 and is hoping to reach a grand total of £20,000 from the event.

He said he was passionate about healing some of the tensions that exist between rival teams.

“The main thing is about bringing the community together,” he said. “Over the last six months there has been some violent incidents. What I’m saying is, instead of fighting let’s do something to bring us together.

“Regardless of ethnicities and religions, we all need to respect each other or we aren’t going to survive.”

As well as his one-man crusade in Burton, Mr Ahmed is also desperate to do what he can to help victims in Syria.

He said: “These children have been left in a war zone with nothing in the world. If I was in that situation I would hope someone would think about my family’s suffering.”

Anyone wanting to take part in the tournament or for more information call Mr Ahmed on 07714 596118.

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