Ismael Bamba has been named Newcastle United Foundation’s Community Captain in recognition of his work supporting local communities across the North East.
The accolade was presented to Ismael by Newcastle United and Premier League record goal scorer Alan Shearer at an unveiling of a mural close to St James’ Park, which has been created to celebrate his impact on the local community.
On receiving the award, Ismael said: “When I first came here, it was a great change for me. I loved it and I met new people through the Foundation's Premier League Kicks sessions so I can relate to a lot of the participants we support.
“We have a huge amount of diversity in terms of backgrounds, it’s great to support the participants who use these sessions to come together and use football to create positive change in their lives.”
Ismael moved to Newcastle in 2006 as a child, escaping conflict during the First Ivorian Civil War. He soon made friends and found comfort in attending Premier League Kicks sessions where he enjoyed free, supervised football with Foundation coaches.
As a teenager, Ish began volunteering at Kicks in Newcastle and was then employed as a community coach with the Foundation – using his confidence gained at Premier League Kicks sessions over the years, Ish could support others to enjoy socialising, playing and meeting new people.
Alan Shearer said: “One of the things I love the most about football is its ability to bring people together on and off the pitch and provide opportunities within communities everywhere. I think Ismael epitomises what it means to be a Community Captain – he’s a true role model who inspires others and leads by example. He is a credit to Newcastle United and the club’s Foundation.
“I was lucky enough to have fulfilled all my dreams as a professional footballer, but my first experience of competitive football – like so many others – came at grassroots level. Premier League funding benefits every part of the game and is integral to its ongoing strength.”
The ‘More Than A Game’ campaign – which will be visible at all Premier League matches between 17 and 26 February – will showcase how the Premier League’s world-leading investment into all levels of football and funding for club community programmes positively impact the lives of millions.
Community Captains will be celebrated on Premier League and club channels over the next two weeks. To find out more, please visit: www.premierleague.com/morethanagame and use #PLMoreThanAGame on social media.