In a Delhi slum, Rohingya team dreams football, debates ‘Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi?’
THEY call themselves the Rohingya Shining Stars. On most nights, after they are done with their daily jobs as autorickshaw drivers, construction labourers, software trainees and IT technicians, they gather under a tent in Shaheen Bagh slum in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar for football nights. Long away from home, as the violence that made them flee Myanmar now haunts them here, the refugees debate a matter that unites football fans across the world: who is better, Ronaldo or Messi?
Riyaz, the captain of the Rohingya Shining Stars and one of the 18-member team’s few Ronaldo fans, set up the football club in 2015, along with fellow refugees. “Back home we all used to play football as kids. We were very good at the game but never got the platform to showcase our skills,” says the midfielder, who is doing a computer course and gives free tuitions to children of the Shaheen Bagh Rohingya refugee camp, housing 70-odd families.