Soft Landing held an international soccer game as part of its fourth annual welcoming week on Sept. 19.
With their series of welcoming events, Soft Landing aims to bring together immigrants, refugees and native-born residents and raise awareness of the benefits of welcoming new residents and help them integrate into Missoula.
“I feel like there’s a few things that are these universal languages, and soccer happens to be one of them,” Soft Landing Executive Director Mary Poole said. “It’s one of those things that transcends language and culture.”
The welcoming week included lots of food, music and life stories from new residents.
The celebration ended with a soccer match at Playfair Park. The event was meant to bring together immigrants and Montana natives for a game of soccer.
Teams were greeted with a gray, windy day, yet nothing could slow them down as they took to the grass. Teams were divided into orange and blue, and soon players were running up and down the wet soccer field.
Chukas Mugondozi, a member of the blue team, said he was enjoying the weather and the competition of the game.
Mugondozi is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and said he is happy and thankful to be in Missoula.
Everyone was welcome to attend the event and take their best shot at winning. Families were able to watch from the sidelines and grab Gatorade and ice cream as the game went on.
“The importance of welcoming week is obviously to center around the fact that refugees and immigrants bring so much value to our communities.” Poole said.