Simon aged 17 like many young people has a huge passion and love for the game of football, one that welcomes all and he first attended the Sheffield Wednesday Football Club Community Programme’s refugee session. Having recently moved to the county, he was keen to find and pursue activities and opportunities he could get involved with to integrate into the local community.
The refugee programme started in partnership with the Refugee Council whereby they organised and delivered free football sessions to refugees and asylum seekers. However, as the world was hit by COVID-19 and strict lockdown rules were implemented the programme grind to a halt. But, there were still 120 arrivals in the city being housed in a local hotel with very small quantities of the basic necessities required to live; money, clothes and the ability to have contact with friends and family. Not only did this impact their physical well-being but their mental health too.
This was their reality until SWFCCP partnered with Yorkshire Sport who helped fund COVID-safe activity sessions as well as providing equipment for people to continue exercising in their own time.
Having been involved in the refugee football sessions, Simon soon took up the opportunity to partake in the Premier League Kicks sessions.
These sessions allowed him to build further rapport and relationships with staff and other young people. Not only did this benefit Simon’s football ability but also allowed him to develop his English skills and consequently his confidence. So much so, he was able to apply and be accepted on the SWFCCP Education programme, studying for a BTEC Sport qualification.
Paul Hebda, Inclusion Officer said the following: “I have known Simon for around 2 years now. When he first attended, Simon, being new to the country and the sessions, was quiet and not confident with his communication skills. Simon has come on so far. Now he has lots of confidence and has built some very strong friendships with other young people. To see him working hard and succeeding in his education with us is fantastic.”
Simon explained: “I like [attending PL Kicks sessions] as I like the people and we have a lot of fun during the playing time. I like that the staff are giving their time for us to play for free. Everyone is nice to each other, and everyone comes to play football and get along with each other.”
Paul Continues, “By studying the BTEC Sport Course Simon is giving himself the skills to be able coach and lead the of sessions he once attended. He just loves football and is keen to look at how he can use his education to share his love of the game and help others in the community.”