This post is about two months till late…so apologies for that! I still thought it was worth sharing though. On Thursday October 5th, a group of 53 of us set off on a coach from Coventry city centre. The destination? – Wembley Stadium. The occasion? – England-Slovenia, in a World Cup Qualifier. In our party were a few Brits, a guy from Syria, and around 50 Sudanese lads; quite a mix for what was an absolutely brilliant night.
The FA had very kindly given us the tickets for free, as part of their drive to “support and encourage refugees who want to play football in England”. They, and many others, recognise the amazing potential that sport has to unify people from different backgrounds, and want to play their part in supporting people as they start their new lives here.
It was such an amazing night for us all. To have the chance to see massive household names like Harry Kane, Joe Hart, and Marcus Rashford in the flesh was brilliant, and such a unique night for guys who never get the chance to experience something like this.
Despite the game being a pretty drab affair (at least they had an authentic England supporter’s experience…), everyone said afterwards it was “a night they’d never forget.” England managed to scrape a 1-0 win courtesy of a last-minute goal from Kane, which was a cracking end to a great night.
It was especially special for guys like Sadam, pictured below. He is stuck in the difficult position whereby he wants to keep improving his English so he can truly make this country his own, but also needs to earn money to live. He therefore took a job doing night shifts at a warehouse on the edge of the city a few months ago, but also committed to enrolling on an ESOL course – he will often get home at 6.00am after a 12 hour night shift, grab a few hours sleep, and then get up at 9.00 to go to college. He tries to grab a couple more hours’ sleep in the afternoon after class, before setting off at 5.00pm for his next shift…crazy. His commitment and dedication is so incredibly inspirational and humbling, and it was brilliant to be able to offer him the chance to have some respite and really enjoy himself with his friends in a one-off experience. These moments are incredibly precious, and I’m so honoured that I can call people like him my friends.