From football to community action: Field Day at Tonbridge

More than 30 young migrants who are currently being housed by Kent County Council spent a day at Tonbridge School last Wednesday (3 October).

Aged between 16 and 18, the boys have arrived in the UK unaccompanied by any adult, often having left their home countries in desperate circumstances. 

The boys, who are waiting for their immigration status to be assessed, took part in a football tournament at the school, which saw mixed teams of Tonbridge boys and young migrants compete for a trophy and medals. 

The event was part of the school’s annual Field Day, during which a huge range of local projects benefit from the support of the Tonbridge Community Action (TCA) team and the hundreds of boys who volunteer their time and help. Social responsibility is a key pillar of a Tonbridge education, with boys involved in community and charity based activities throughout their time at the school.

As well as competing in the football tournament, the migrant boys gave a series of presentations about their lives, their home countries, traditional foods and, in some cases, their perilous journeys from their homes to other parts of the world. Often speaking through translators, Tonbridge boys and their visitors were able to ask each other questions about respective life experiences. They also took part in a game of water polo and had the opportunity to sample a traditional English cream tea. 

Tonbridge boys joined in many other community pursuits on Field Day, including planting trees and building a ‘mud kitchen’ at Nexus Foundation Special School, running sports sessions at local primary schools, and picking apples to make into juice, raising funds for Farm Africa.

Juliet Burnett, Tonbridge School’s Community Action Manager, said: “It was a privilege to welcome young asylum seeking boys from so many parts of the globe into Tonbridge School. Our boys were very moved by the experience: many languages were spoken and there was lots of bonding over the international language of football.

"All of us learnt from each other. We look forward to the relationships between these young people developing as we continue to run football sessions in the coming weeks.”