What effect can football have on a person and their quality of life? Exiles Together Founder Jalal Goni spoke with a participant at County in the Community’s We Wear the Same Shirt to find out.
Please introduce yourself to the readers?
“My name is Maj Islam, I am 24 years old and currently volunteer for Newport County in the Community. Before that I was studying in college for four years completing City and Guilds Diploma Level 1/2 and also an ASDAN course achieving a SENDI certification (a programme to provide skills to include people with disabilities and special needs into the community). I live at home with my mum, dad and brother and sister. I was born with cerebral palsy and i also have a learning disability. I also suffer from asthma.”
How did you come to know about the Newport County programmes?
“My cousin Izzy took me to the Bettws football centre one day and introduced me to Norman [Parselle]. He was very friendly and welcoming and asked me to join the football sessions every Thursday. I started to make friends at the sessions and started playing matches against other clubs, I play in the left back position.”
How has the programme helped you?
“The programme has helped me learn about how I can keep my body healthy, they provide fruit and keep me physically fit each week. It has helped me make friends who I play with regularly. I feel more confident when I play football and it makes me feel happy. I have also started volunteering on match days which I really enjoy.”
What has it been like working with Norman and other Community Team members?
“They are really nice people, Norman is always making jokes and is a positive guy. He gave me the nickname Magic because I always try do some skills. Mike and David are also friendly when they come to the sessions.”
Has your time as part of Newport County and the Community Team given you a sense of belonging in the community?
“Yes, I feel a part of the team. I wear the county tracksuit on match days which was provided for me. I look forward to the football sessions on Thursdays where i see my friends.”
Please could you explain your role at the club on matchdays?
“I first sign in and head to see the team for a drink and a chat. A County player comes in and the children (Matchday Visit) ask him some questions in the tent.
We then get the goals, balls and cones and head pitch side and set up the goals. We take the children inside the stadium and give them flags for when they line up for the players entrance. We collect up the equipment and tidy up and then sit down to watch the match.
At half time we set up the goals and my colleague take the children to the pitch and they play a small match. At the end of the match we give out programmes to the children and finish for the day.”
Anything else you would like to add?
“I want to thank Newport County in the Community for making me a part of Newport County. Thank you to the staff who have kept me safe and are always friendly to me. I feel proud to represent and work for Newport County.”
We would like to thank Magic for speaking to us on what is a difficult subject for many. If you think you or someone you know would benefit from getting involved with We Wear the Same Shirt or any other of County in the Community, please go to their website or get in contact via email at firstname.lastname@example.org