On Saturday 19 October 2019, the national football team of West Papua played a football match against the official team of East Turkestan on the main field of Quick in The Hague, the Netherlands.
It was an event that provided an opportunity to promote the identity of West Papua and East Turkestan, both to the people in their home country as well as to the world.
Both Peoples suffer from extensive political, social and economic oppression, by Indonesia and China, respectively. The Papuans in Indonesia have faced decades of oppression and marginalisation of their culture. The Uyghurs suffer a similar fate with their culture being heavily suppressed by the Chinese government while many Uyghur refugee communities across the world struggle to keep in touch with their family members at home. Despite these hardships, the event was a celebration and not a commemoration.
The West Papua team, consisting mainly of players from the Papuan diaspora in the Netherlands, proudly stood behind their flag, sang the national anthem and played with spirit and determination.
The East Turkestan Football team
The Uyghur players from East Turkestan were at least as motivated as the Papuan players and showed their professionalism on the field. The selected players from the East Turkestan national team arrived by plane from a great number of countries and were greeted by several hundred fellow countrymen who cheered them on before, during and after the match.
The ability to play an international football match against a fellow nation proves that the will to survive as a People is strong and that the voices of the Papuan and Uyghur People are not silenced, but are alive and kicking.
Although the West Papua team had the home advantage, the final score was favourable for the East Turkestan football team. The latter won the match with a score of eight to two.
The match was widely publicized on various media platforms and screened live on the Mycujoo sports channel, which has an exclusive partnership with CONIFA to broadcast official matches. The match can be viewed from their archive.
Furthermore, an extensive article, including several interviews, about the match was written by Henryk Szadziewski from The Diplomat. The article can be read from their website: East Turkistan, West Papua and an Extraordinary Game of Football.