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Meet the man behind Wrexham football team launched for black and ethnic minority players

Published date: 23 June 2017 |
Published by: Jamie Bowman 
Read more articles by Jamie Bowman  Email reporter


 

Like Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, Delwyn Derrick has a vision for Wrexham’s Bellevue Park.

“I’ve been playing on this park for many years and I’ve met lots and lots of people from lots of different countries,” says Delwyn, 29.

“With it being so central people tend to find it easily and I became aware that we had a lot of refugees here.

“Losing a free-to-access facility like this would be devastating for them so I thought I could be the man to change that and decided to set up a football team and see how we got on.”

Delwyn Derrick and footballers at Wrexham's Bellevue Park

A few months later Delwyn has put together a squad of around 40 players from various ethnic groups and formed Bellevue FC, named after the century-old park they train on twice a week.

“Portugal, Albania, Ethiopia, Poland, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Morocco,” says Delwyn, as he points out the various nationalities trying their best to pass the ball on the park’s dandelion-covered surface.

A number of Welsh lads are also joining in all under the watchful eye of Wrexham-born Delwyn who is doing his best to referee, coach and tell me about how Bellevue FC came into being.

“There were some lads from Ethiopia and Eritrea who I’d been playing with for a while and they put me in touch with a man from Sport Wales.

“He gave me some help and advice and most of all the confidence to actually go and so something.

“These people have moved here for lots of different reasons: to work, to study or as refugees, but it doesn’t matter because Wrexham is their home.

“Instead of segregating everything we wanted to create a little community where they could come and meet other foreign nationals who are in the same position and make new friends.”

Taking a break from the action, 24-year-old Tamam Lencho, tells me how he was tortured during violent anti-government protests in Ethiopia and says he would have been killed if he had not fled the country.

“It was very difficult to live in my own country so that’s why I came to the UK,” he says. “My people cannot live in their own land so I left my country.”

Tamam’s journey to Wrexham took him through Sudan, Libya and Europe and the student says he is enjoying the chance to play football again.

“I’m meeting different people, learning about different cultures and enjoying speaking to new people from the Middle East, Africa and Asia.”

One player stands out from the others as he dribbles past the defenders wearing his school uniform and smart shoes.

Kardo Babini, 16, came to Wrexham with his family 18 months ago and his enthusiasm is infectious as he talks about his new home in Wales.

“Wrexham is a nice, quiet town,” he grins. “Basically my family had to leave Iraq because of war and because of Isis.

“I come down here straight after school and it’s giving people a new joy about football and I’ve met a lot of different nationalities. Sport is one of the best ways of meeting friends.”

Delwyn agrees and says the new team has been beneficial to both him and the other Welsh players as well as the foreigners.

“More than 30 people are coming down to train now and they all want to be in the team,” he says. “Some days we just sit around talking because everyone’s got stories to share.

“Football is universal but it’s amazing because we’re all learning different languages too.

“We’re trying to help them learn English and they’re also learning bits of Welsh because a lot of them want to know about the local culture.

“I’ve been learning Arabic, some Portuguese and some Kurdish so it’s not just about football, we’re learning each others language and culture.

“I was wasting away in the house doing nothing before this, but now I’ve got a full time job I’m not getting paid for!”

Delwyn is determined to take things forward and with the support of the FAW he has entered Bellevue Park FC into the North East Wales Football League next season and hopes to attract sponsors and funding.

“It’s all about finding money to make sure this is sustainable,” he adds.

“I’d like to look at an educational aspect to it with some free to access English lessons and there’s no reason why we can’t look at doing other sports too.”

For more information contact clwbpeldroed. bellevue@gmail.com or find the team’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BellevueFootball/

  • See full story in the Leader

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