Soft Landing Missoula will be hosting the third annual World Refugee Day Cup Soccer Tournament on Sunday, June 16 at the Fort Missoula Regional Park.

Executive Director Mary Poole described the genesis of Soft Landing Missoula.

Soft Landing Missoula began about three years ago. It was an effort by our community to ask the question about whether there was more our community could be doing to help refugees worldwide and right here in our community,” said Poole. “In answering that question, we helped return refugee resettlement to Missoula through the International Rescue Committee. Now, we work with refugees who have come here over the past three years, providing services to them and our community.”

Poole said the Missoula community has welcomed several groups of refugees.

“Missoula’s been able to welcome over 75 refugee families in the last three years through the International Rescue Community. Three years into this it’s so magical to see people getting settled and comfortable and contributing to their communities, their churches and their schools. It’s been so amazing to see these families open up, integrate and thrive here in Missoula.”

Poole said refugee resettlement is largely federally funded.

“There are some regimented funds that come from the federal government, plus they qualify for any income-based programs that anyone else might, however resettlement as a system is very focused on early self-sufficiency and early employment,” she said. “What we are seeing is that people are become employed very quickly within three to six months of being here and working really hard to become self sufficient for their families.
Poole emphasized that for these refugees from their various countries, Missoula is now their home.

“Resettlement is reserved for the less that one percent of refugees worldwide that need a solution outside of their own country or region,” she said. “Only the most vulnerable cases of refugees worldwide are considered for resettlement, so this is home for them.”

The World Refugee Day Cup Soccer Tournament is set for Sunday, June 16 at the Fort Missoula Regional Park, and Poole said anyone and everyone is welcome to come and play with refugee players on every team. After the final match at about 5:00 p.m. there will be a free gathering at the pavilion for free food and music. Poole said the Congolese choir will be performing at the event.