Bristol Somali Youth Voice organised a Community at Sport 2021 event at Lockleaze Sports Centre on Sunday 29 August, which brought young people and community members from different areas of Bristol and backgrounds, to play football and socialise.
As a grassroots organisation based at Easton Community Centre, Bristol Somali Youth Voice advocates for and empowers disadvantaged young people in the city. It works with Bristol Health Partners on addressing health inequalities, and uses sport as a way to engage young people and bring the Bristol Somali community together to inspire a better future.
The event was an opportunity to return to some kind of normality after the restrictions of COVID-19 and lockdowns. Many community members are struggling with the impact of COVID-19, and the issues that it has triggered such as unemployment, or losing a family member or friend.
Local neighbourhood police were invited to field a team, to help build trust with disadvantaged community groups, including young people from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Mohamed A Sayaqle, Chair of Bristol Somali Youth Voice and the event co-ordinator, said:
“Some young people are struggling and getting involved in street violence and antisocial behaviour because they lost their job or they have been dealing with difficulties and issues triggered by COVID-19.
“The football sessions aim to engage and educate young people and give them space to take part in sport, socialise and interact with other young people, being role models to each other and showcasing their skills and talents, which will hopefully divert young people to a more positive cause.
"Congratulations to the winners, runners up, and all teams who were involved, including the Avon and Somerset police neighbourhood team. Special congratulations to the individuals who won personal awards: Liban Abdi, who won goal of the tournament, and Mohamed from the Sudani team and Dan from the local neighbourhood police team who both won player of the tournament."
Speaking to the young people who turned out for the event, Mohamed Elsharif, a community development manager at Bristol City Council, said:
“You are future leaders of our city of Bristol, this is inspiring to [see you] be role models to each other.”
Abdul Ahmed, who also co-ordinated the event, added:
”Bringing the community together, especially young people, is amazing. We need this kind of event to improve our wellbeing and recover from the hardship of COVID-19.
“Kudos to all our organising team, volunteers, the diversity and inclusion team of Avon and Somerset Police, the Lord Mayor of Bristol, Bristol High Sheriff, professionals, community leaders, elders, and parents who spend their weekends with us. We profoundly appreciate your time, and your attendance and involvement made our event better. Lastly huge thanks for Lockleaze staff, especially Nick, for their hospitality and welcome.”