THE player-manager of a multi-nationality football team has picked up a top award for his efforts.

Delwyn Derrick, 30, of Bersham, was one of the founders of a football team at Bellevue Park in the middle of Wrexham which boasts a squad packed with migrants and refugees.

For his efforts over the last 18 months or so he picked up the Equality and Diversity Award at a ceremony hosted by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones at the Celtic Royal Hotel in Caernarfon.

“Everyone involved with the Bellevue team is very proud to receive this award,” said Delwyn. “For me personally it is a massive achievement.”

The award citation said it was being made to someone who has embraced community engagement to reduce tensions and fear of crime.

Arfon Jones said: “Delwyn has given an opportunity to people of many nationalities to come together and play football.

“Their recent award ceremony at the Saith Seren in Wrexham showed the rapport and camaraderie they have built up as a team and Delwyn has done so much to break down barriers between nationalities in Wrexham.

“It’s an excellent example of a bottom up approach to an issue and not the usual top down.”

The multi-national Bellevue team was formed in 2017 when Delwyn, along with friends James Wright, Jon Davies and Damian Walker, spotted French and German students living in the area while they were at university or college coming down for a kick-about with their mates.

“We thought to ourselves that it would be a good idea to start a team that would be for people of all nationalities,” said Delwyn. “We knew there was a Portuguese-only team and a Kurdish team as well, but there was nothing for mixed nationalities.

“So we set about forming one and the reaction from players was very positive. I find it difficult to believe no-one had done it before.”

The 30-strong Bellevue squad is made up of players aged from 14 to 40 from Poland, Romania, Albania, Portugal, Syria, Eritrea, Sudan, Libya, Iraq, Germany, Angola, England and, of course, Wales.

The team played in the North East Wales league last season and in 26 matches there was only one incident of racism.

“An opposing player used a racist term to one of our lads,” said Delwyn. “The league itself and the club we were playing against took swift action against the offending player. I know stuff goes on outside the club and it makes me very sad and angry."

Delwyn added that Bellevue is going through a bit of a transitional period. “Players have come and gone,” he said, “some of them because they found the North East Wales league too competitive.

“Damien still plays for us, but James and Jon don’t anymore because of work and other commitments.”

“We’re very excited about the coming season. Normally players at our level take a month off, but our squad only took a week and are training every Tuesday and Friday night. We can’t wait for the kick-off.”

Bellevue will once again be joining forces with Mr Jones to highlight National Hate Crime Awareness Week in October, but this year several other teams in the North East Wales league want to get involved.

He admits he is also keen to learn how his Muslim players are affected by the Ramadan 30-day fast that he and a couple of colleagues have volunteered to follow the religious festival.

“I just want to know how my players are affected by a long fast, what impact it has on their bodies,” said Delwyn.

“I and two or three other members of the Bellevue squad have volunteered to join the Ramadan fast next year so we can learn what its impact is on our fellow players. It’s sure to be an interesting exercise.”