Bayern Munich left back Alphonso Davies wrote a letter to the six members of the Refugee Paralympic Team ahead of the 2021 Summer Paralympics, which begin Tuesday in Tokyo.
Davies, who was born in a refugee camp in Ghana before moving to Canada at a young age, labeled it a "note for the world's most courageous sports team" and said the athletes have the "power to inspire others:"
Alphonso Davies @AlphonsoDavies
My message for the world’s most courageous sports team. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RefugeeParalympicTeam?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RefugeeParalympicTeam</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Paralympics?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Paralympics</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Refugees?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Refugees</a> <a href="https://t.co/BKXnUzq75j">https://t.co/BKXnUzq75j</a> <a href="https://t.co/AJ26JtpSSf">pic.twitter.com/AJ26JtpSSf</a>
Davies is a global goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an agency dedicated to improving the lives of refugees around the world.
"My own experiences make me want to speak up for refugees, to share their stories and to help make a difference," the 20-year-old Bayern star said after accepting the role in March.
Here are the members of this year's Refugee Paralympic Team:
- Ibrahim Al Hussein (Syria)
- Parfait Hakizimana (Burundi)
- Alia Issa (Syria)
- Abbas Karimi (Afghanistan)
- Anas Al Khalifa (Syria)
- Shahrad Nasajpour (Iran)
Issa is the first woman to compete as a refugee in the Paralympic Games. She will try to secure a gold medal in the women's club throw.
"Sport has given me independence," Issa said in May. "I am now suddenly part of a new community, making new friends with similar goals."
#ParaAthletics #Tokyo2020 @ParaAthletics
✨Refugee Para athlete <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GrandPrix?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GrandPrix</a> debut ✨<br><br>Alia Issa first got in touch with Para sports 3 years ago. Now she is a Paralympic hopeful and traveled to Switzerland in search of qualification for <a href="https://twitter.com/Tokyo2020?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Tokyo2020</a> . <br><br>She competed at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Nottwil2021?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Nottwil2021</a> in the women's club throw.<a href="https://twitter.com/Paralympics?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Paralympics</a> <a href="https://t.co/oaVr2AutLj">pic.twitter.com/oaVr2AutLj</a>
Al Hussein and Nasajpour also competed at the 2016 Rio Paralympics under the banner of Independent Paralympic Athletes.
The Tokyo Games mark the first official appearance for a Refugee Paralympic Team, which is led by American Ileana Rodriguez, a refugee from Cuba who was chosen as the chef de mission for the squad after previously competing in the 2012 London Paralympics.
"All Paralympians have a story of struggle. But with refugees, you add another level of complexity to this," Rodriguez said in June, per sportanddev.org. "Seeing their attitude, and seeing how they portray their stories of hope, their courage, it is mind-blowing, even for an athlete like myself."
The Tokyo Paralympics are scheduled to run from Tuesday through Sept. 5, with more than 4,500 athletes expected to compete in more than 500 events.