THREE friends from East Lancashire who had the goal of helping conflict victims in Syria have raised more than £2,000 by staging a football tournament.

And Tariq Mushtaq, Wasim Hassan and Shebz Ali are considering whether their six-a-side fundraiser could become an annual event after attracting 24 teams to Marsden Heights Community College.

Their effort will support Human Hands, a charity which provides shelters for Syrian refugees, giving priority to children, the elderly and the disabled.

Tariq, a council worker in Rossendale, said: “It all started when we looked at what was happening in Syria, felt a bit helpless, and wondered what we could do here in Brierfield.

“So we started approaching sponsors, and talked with the local shops and takeaways, and it went from there. We got 100 bottles of water from one, 300 soft drinks from another.

“It probably took around three or four weeks for us to organise. We got lots of volunteers to help and then we needed to sort out referees but it all came together.”

Six-a-side teams from Brierfield, Nelson, Blackburn and Bury took part in the competition, with an outfit from Burnley eventually triumphing in the final.

When the final whistle blew Tariq, Wasim, a taxi driver, and Shebz, who works at Daisy Communications, were all ‘absolutely drained’.

“But it was all worth it and we’ve already had people asking us whether we could something like this every year. There are a lot of good causes around here and there’s no reason why that couldn’t happen in future.”