Letter to Editor: In defence of Harlow’s migrant football team

News / Wed 19th Aug 2020 am31 07:38am

Dear Editor,

I currently manage a football team called Changing Lives FC made of migrant and refugees boys. This is part of the programme under Changing Lives in Harlow CIC.

I’ve recently come under lots of criticism regarding supporting migrants from my RT Interview I done last week.

I would just like to say, we as Changing Lives will try and support and help anyone who needs it, including those that come from a different country.

We will not stop and we will not give up in what we do. The comments that I have personally received have been sickening and extremely disappointing.

I don’t have to justify anything but due to the comments I feel like I have to. We are funded by Active Essex who support us, we offer support, mentoring and football for these young boys.

The boys will go to college to learn core skills such maths, English and science. They are striving for a better future and we are supporting them throughout. Some are fighting asylum and some are awaiting news from the Home Office.

These boys live in supported housing and wait to be granted asylum where some struggle to integrate into the Harlow community. They are living on £37.75 a week and are unable to work while they await clarification of their status.

The boys are from Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Eritrea, Ghana, Sudan, Egypt etc and have no unifying language between them. Despite this their strong shared bond is remarkable and this is all thanks to sport. Football is a universal sport that brings us all together.

The boys go through a lot of misjudgment, racism, discrimination and harassment. When playing other football teams I feel we are are already 3-0 down before the match has even kicked off.

It’s hard. Every training session and every match, I have to tell the boys they must ignore what the other boys say to them. They must not react to a tackle or comment. It’s hard but it’s what we have to do. We are judged on the mistakes they make not the triumphant gains they achieve.

All eyes are on us and not in a positive way. People want us to make mistakes, to cause the boys to react. But at the end of the day we are all human beings, we all deserve to live in a country that is safe. Why do they have to be judged?

Everyone deserve a chance.

David Simmons
Co- Director of Changing Lives in Harlow CIC

YH will be visiting David and his team on Saturday.

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