'PL Kicks welcomed me from Somalia'

19 Apr 2017
NUFC Foundation, Ally

Ally had no friends and didn't speak English when he moved to the UK aged 14; now he's an active part of the Newcastle community

Leaving Somalia at the age of 14 was a harrowing ordeal for football-mad Ally.

"I didn't speak English and I didn't have any friends," Ally, now 17, recalled.

After leaving all of his friends behind to move to Benwell in Newcastle upon Tyne, he found himself in unfamiliar surroundings and had lost all of his confidence.

Too nervous to start playing football again due to his lack of English, Ally was resigned to watching children of his age play in the park outside his house.

Newcastle United flagbearer
Ally is now a flagbearer for Newcastle United on matchdays

But one day he plucked up enough courage to get involved.

"I was nervous but I'm glad I did it as the other players introduced me to Kicks," he said.

"I started going to the sessions at Westgate. They were great fun and I made new friends. In fact, I made all my friends through football!"

One of more than 180,000 young people to have taken part in the Premier League Kicks programme since it started in 2006, Ally started to regain his confidence.

"Premier League Kicks really helped build my confidence"

Ally, Newcastle United Foundation volunteer

He was encouraged by Kicks coaches to do the National Citizen Service, which helps 15 to 17-year-olds gain skills for work and life, with the Newcastle United Foundation, for whom he now volunteers alongside doing an apprenticeship in engineering.

"It really helped build my confidence, not just as a person but with my English too. Doing something in our community felt good.

"I volunteer for the Foundation and I am a flag-bearer at St James' Park when Newcastle United play. Standing in front of 52,000 people has boosted my confidence even more.

"Coming to a new country was scary but football welcomed me and has helped my become part of the community. I have friends right across the city and my family is so proud."

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