Integrating Rohingya migrants through soccer

A soccer league in Malaysia hopes to integrate Rohingya migrants into society by organising matches with the locals.

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - This amateur game in Kuala Lumpur has a bigger goal than just improving their skills.

Organisers of the local Sunday League hope to tackle prejudices against Rohingya Muslims, playing in the pink shirts.

They fled Myanmar where they faced harsh discrimination and soccer is one of the few arenas where they truly feel equal, says player Mohammad Farouk Yusuf Khan.

"It can bring us closer to each other, and promote understanding because sport is one of those things that, regardless of race or religion, we are all one. When talking about sports, we all unite, we all have to be together," said Khan.

While the Sunday League is only open to Malaysians, an exception was made for Rohingya Football Club.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya fled to Muslim-majority Malaysia to escape harsh discrimination in Myanmar, where they're not recognised as citizens.

After a perilous and sometimes deadly voyage, they arrived in Malaysia but their problems are far from over.

They live in the shadows of society, barred from working officially or receiving formal education.

Often seen as illegal immigrants, they generally have limited contact with Malaysians.

The Rohingya Football Club was set up in 2015 and players hope to start a movement, inspired by the refugee team at the Rio Olympics.