From refugee to Premier League Kicks role model at Newcastle

20 February 2024

From refugee to Premier League Kicks role model at Newcastle

Ish Bamba, an 11-year-old refugee from the Ivory Coast, arrived in Newcastle with his family in 2006, fleeing the civil war. Over the years, he became an inspirational figure in his community, thanks to the Premier League Kicks program and the Newcastle United Foundation. His impactful journey and contributions to the local community were celebrated with a mural near St James’ Park.

Now 28, Ish is a full-time member of the Newcastle United Foundation, serving as a Premier League Kicks community coach. He shares his experiences and knowledge to help young people build friendships, reach their potential, and provides specialized sessions for refugees, migrants, and those seeking sanctuary. Ish sees Premier League Kicks as a space for young people to feel safe, create new friendships, learn, and most importantly, have fun. Despite his challenging start, Ish emphasizes the importance of seizing opportunities and shaping one’s future, expressing gratitude for the journey that has made a positive difference in his life.

Despite facing challenges initially, including language barriers, Ish found solace in football, joining his school team and later participating in Premier League Kicks sessions at the age of 15. The program provided a safe and welcoming space, fostering his love for the game and connecting him with like-minded individuals. Ish not only became an active participant but also volunteered, wanting to give back and have a positive impact on future generations.


Welcome Through Football is an EFDN initiative. Current projects across Europe receive funding from the Eramus+ programme of the European Union and the UEFA Foundation for Children.

The Welcome Through Football 2021 project aims to assist in the integration and inclusion of recently arrived young refugees, asylum seekers and young people with a migrant background. EFDN and partners will develop and test a European methodology that uses football as a tool to reach refugees and migrants from different ages (7-25 years old) to get them physically and social active in European communities.

Moreover, the project assists football coaches and youth workers in the development and sharing of effective methods in reaching out to the marginalised target group, in preventing racism and intolerance.


  1. Socialisation to sports – providing different football offerings for young refugees of both genders related to their specific requirements such as language skills or the possibility of trauma.
  2. Socialisation in sports – working on team structure, giving more responsibility to the participants and offering additional steps out with the sports training sessions.
  3. Socialisation through sports – Focusing on the skills the participants learn from taking part in the available offers so that they qualify for further education in and outside of sports.



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