Sometimes when we play in the football club where I’m a chairman, the Danish teams stare weirdly at us because they think all immigrants are up to no good. Then I feel foreign. But when you participate in sports, there are no foreigners. Sport is a common denominator.
When I first came to Denmark and applied for asylum there was no staff at the airport. It was 26th June 1992 when Denmark played the European Championship finale against Germany. I heard someone cheer and then the staff returned. After being granted asylum I came to Aalestrup, where I started my integration.
I joined a football club, as the only foreigner. At the end of season party, they bought chicken and juice for me, because as a Muslim, I do not drink beer or eat pork. Respect is a two-way street.
When we moved to Aarhus I helped start a club where children and youngsters play football, swim and do various social activities. Hopefully it will keep them away from gangs and trouble. My sons have joined the club, and the eldest one is goalkeeper. When I lived in Kuwait, I played high-level football, and was a goalkeeper. But my dad sort of wished I would break a leg. He was terrified something would happen to me in the street. I tie up my sons’ shoe laces before they play a match.
We have Arabs, Kurds, Iraqis, Lebanese, Palestinians, Somalis, Turks and Danes in the club. I am Danish because I have a Danish passport and Kurdish because I speak Kurdish. Although my parents live in Iraq, and I grew up in Kuwait, I have stronger feelings for Denmark. Why should I feel grateful to a country where I was violated? I am grateful to Denmark, where all doors were opened for us. Therefore, I would like to give something back.
Mohammad Rasoul R. Weis / 50 / male / married / children / flexible benefits / Aarhus / Kurd from Kuwait / came to Denmark as a refugee in 1992 / residence permit same year