In partnership with Fylde Council, Lancashire County Council and Amnesty International, AFC Fylde Community Foundation’s Football Welcomes project supports refugees and asylum seekers arriving in the borough.

Since August 2021, the Foundation have offered weekly football and sports sessions, opportunities to play competitive fixtures and visit local attractions to support integration into the local Fylde area.

One individual who has benefitted from taking part in our Football Welcomes project is Mohammed Hashim, who arrived in Kirkham in August 2021, as a refugee from Sudan.

It was clear that Mohammed and others in a similar position required support with accessing and integrating into the local community – he now attends every session on Tuesdays between 5pm-and 6pm at Fylde Sports and Education Centre.

Acknowledging the power of football and how it can connect people in a number of ways, working alongside local partners, the Foundation’s Football Welcomes project has supported 44 refugees this year.

Mohammed said: “I love football and did not have anywhere to play or have any clothing to wear in the beginning until Football Welcomes offered me everything, and I appreciate it.”

The group have since visited the National Football Museum in Manchester, played in tournaments against other clubs in the North West and attended AFC Fylde first-team fixtures.

“It makes me happy and I feel that I’m welcome here, I’ve made new friends, improved my language skills and it opens life doors for me to find my way into the future,” Mohammed continued.

“As a refugee, I’ve found the people and the help I needed in Kirkham. They welcomed me and offered me a place to play football and do other activities I wanted to do. Refugees are welcome, and I want to share this happiness with others.”

“Since you welcomed me at AFC Fylde Community Foundation, I feel like I’m home and when other people come to play, I feel like I’m part of the place. Thank you so much for everything.”

Scott Harries, Community Development Officer at AFC Fylde Community Foundation, added: “It’s great to see the lads come down and enjoy our Football Welcomes sessions.

“We have seen their confidence grow as they have settled into the local area, and it shows that the power of football can bring people together.”

AFC Fylde’s first-team squad have supported our Football Welcomes project by wearing shirts during the warm-ups ahead of fixtures.