The new Liverpool tournament uniting the world through football

In a time when the UK government seeks to divide the population, there is resistance in the heart of Liverpool.

After arriving at the city’s docks, people from all over the world settled in Liverpool 8.

Toxteth has become a cultural hotbed for different backgrounds and ethnicities to mix and integrate.

In the mid 20th century, this area became a deprived one, with heightened tensions often caused by racial prejudice in the police force.

Sick of discrimination, Toxteth then became national news in 1981 when the bad feeling culminated in the L8 uprisings.

The area is still deemed a deprived one, but people come together thanks to a strong sense of community.

Now in its third year, the World in One City tournament highlights Liverpool and Toxteth’s togetherness.

We know football has the ability to unite and divide, World in One City definitely acts as the former.

Founded by Imad Ali, who has Yemeni heritage himself, the idea has been years in the making but had to wait until after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted to host the first tournament.

The World in One City is a World Cup-style competition in which players from all over Liverpool play for their country of birth or heritage.

This year, 15 nations and a Rest of the World side are represented.

The teams are: Nigeria, Ghana, Jamaica, Brazil, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Somali Team, Poland, England, Guinea Bissau, Congo, Sudan, Libya, ROTW, Yemen and Bangladesh.

Matches are free to attend and can draw large crowds.

Some of the football is of a high standard too, and the passion is clear to see.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, who played in the FIFA World Cup last year, recently went down to meet Ali and some of those involved in setting the tournament up.

While the Liverpool right-back grew up in West Derby, he recalled how he used to visit L8’s thoroughfare, Lodge Lane, frequently.

“I never grew up around here but I was always down here,” said the No. 66.

“This is where I used to get my hair cut; this where we used to chill – me and my cousins and that, playing footy.”

Going on to talk more about the area, Alexander-Arnold told Ali: “It’s good to see what you’re doing around here man, because it’s needed.”

Ali replied: “Lodge Lane is vastly changed, it’s on the rise I’d say. There’s a good sense of togetherness with this community.”

“You can put the idea in motion but the community gave it the injection of life.”

The tournament is a real festival of football.

While competitive on the pitch, there is no animosity once the final whistle goes and it is a heartwarming sight to see the good will between people with backgrounds from all over the world.

With Curtis Jones, Robbie Fowler, Ian Callaghan and Howard Gayle all having roots in L8, perhaps the tournament will also produce some stars of the future.