Refugees and migrants from Newcastle United Foundation met with NUFC player
Anthony Gordon delighted dozens of recently arrived refugees, migrants and young people seeking sanctuary when he spent an afternoon getting to know Newcastle United Foundation’s community.
Joining in with a football game, Gordon spent time meeting and chatting to participants from all over the world who are making a new home and a new life for themselves in the North East. The Foundation’s Welcome Through Football programme provides a unique opportunity to assist the integration and inclusion of young refugees, asylum seekers and people with a migrant background united by a shared passion for football.
It was the United forward’s first trip to the Foundation’s home – NUCASTLE, powered by Newcastle Building Society – since arriving on Tyneside in January. Gordon hailed the Foundation’s “incredible” work and facilities available for all community members to enjoy.
“Everyone here is from different places across the world – it shows me how much of a family city Newcastle is because everyone here is made to feel right at home. At this session, the participants get to come here, have fun with friends and play football and that’s what life is about. Being here has really amazed me. It’s an incredible Foundation and an amazing building – having a football pitch on the rooftop, it’s perfect.”Anthony Gordon, Newcastle United player
Gordon also met with Ish Bamba, NU Futures Project Officer at Newcastle United Foundation, who helps facilitate specialist sessions for recently arrived refugees, migrants and young people seeking sanctuary. Ish shared his own experience of moving to Newcastle in 2006 as a child, escaping conflict during the First Ivorian Civil War. He soon made friends and found comfort in attending Premier League Kicks sessions where he enjoyed free, supervised football with Newcastle United Foundation coaches.
As a teenager, Ish began volunteering at Kicks in Newcastle and was then employed as a community coach with the Foundation – using his confidence gained at Premier League Kicks sessions over the years, Ish could support others to enjoy socialising, playing and meeting new people.
“When I first came here, it was a great change for me. I loved it and I met new people through the Foundation so I can relate to a lot of the participants we support. “Everyone has a different journey, but the goal is always the same – it’s all about being free and being able to better yourself. “We have a huge amount of diversity in terms of backgrounds, it’s great to see the participants coming along together to use football to break down barriers.”Ish Bamba, NU Futures Project Officer at Newcastle United Foundation
Alongside small-sided games, free, weekly sessions delivered by Newcastle United Foundation also introduce participants to training and employment opportunities, through one-to-one support including CV writing and applying for roles.
Welcome Through Football is made possible by funding from the European Football for Development Fund, players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union and the UEFA Foundation for Children.