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Feel your personal best - Anas

“Football is my life and I wouldn’t have been able to get through everything if it wasn’t for Football and United Glasgow."

The decision to leave your family, friends, country and life behind is one many of us can barely imagine having to make. But when faced with war that decision unfortunately can be made for you.

Anas Mammo (37) fled Syria 11 years ago and made his way to Scotland back in 2019 with little more than a backpack. With no family or friends to support him, Anas joined a football club in Glasgow who have been supporting him to make the best out of a very difficult situation and create a new life here in Scotland.

“It has been a really difficult time for everyone from Syria. I lost everything. My house, car, a job and being close to my family and friends. But I’m grateful to be one of the lucky ones that escaped. I have friends and cousins who sadly were caught up in the fighting and lost their lives.

“The war split my family up. My parents now live in Turkey, one of my brothers in Germany, another in Lebanon and a sister in Saudi Arabia. I came to Scotland on my own for a fresh start.

“I was very worried to begin with; a new country, my English isn’t great and new surroundings.”

Growing up, Anas always had a keen interest in sport. Family members used to take part in kickboxing and handball, but football has always been his main passion.

“I love football. I played it when I lived in Syria and I wanted to take it back up, so I searched on the internet for a football team to join in Glasgow and came across United Glasgow.

“I am currently housed in Greenock, but United Glasgow seemed like a welcoming club to me.”

United Glasgow are an inclusive football club aimed at bringing people together with a shared love of the game no matter their gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, socio-economic status, or immigration status.

“The club were so welcoming. Many of my initial worries eased when I went along to my first session.

"There are players from Spain, Mexico, Africa and Asia all playing together, so I didn’t feel like the odd one out. Football is special like that, it brings people together.

“Everyone was incredibly friendly. The club supplied me with some kit and boots and I have made many great friends. It has even helped improve my English.”

United Glasgow have a variety of teams to allow anyone of any ability play at their level. Anas has played for the amateur team as well as the community team. On top of playing, the club helped get him a student placement studying English at West College Scotland where he studies three days a week.

Anas is passionate about supporting others and was given the opportunity to go through his coaching badges which have allowed him to coach at the United Glasgow youth refugee and asylum seeker sessions in the Southside of Glasgow every Tuesday and Friday.

“I love coaching the youth teams. I learn just as much as the children do. It helps to build my confidence and makes me very happy seeing them develop. There are children from various nationalities who attend the sessions, some of which are Arabic, so it’s nice to speak to and support them as sometimes it can be difficult for them in school with limited English.”

“Football is all about respect and support. So, I try to bring this out in the sessions to respect your teammates, your opponents and believe in yourself that you can do it!”

Anas was also fortunate enough to be selected to attend an all-expenses paid coaching trip to Italy last October to learn more about coaching in Verona; an award for his dedication towards United Glasgow.

At the end of November Anas represented United Glasgow at the Scottish Mental Health & Wellbeing League Cup. A competition bringing together over 200 people from various organisations, supporting the recovery of individuals with lived experiences of mental ill-health.

“It was a brilliant day. We were lucky enough to win the competition. Winning a medal topped the day off, but it was amazing meeting lots of new people with similar experiences, playing a bit of football and having fun.”

His outlook on life is much brighter thanks to the support of United Glasgow.  

“I would say my outlook on life was a 5 out of 10 when I first arrived, but now I would be about an 8 or 9. It’s never going to be perfect with everything that is going on, but it’s the best it can be!

“Football is my life and I wouldn’t have been able to get through everything if it wasn’t for Football and United Glasgow. United Glasgow are now my family.

"They have given me new friendships, lots of opportunities to learn new skills and they make me happy.

“Scotland is the best place to have a good life. Scottish people are so friendly, and one day I hope to get citizenship, start a family and call this place my home!”

Find out more

Physical activity is central to good mental health and wellbeing. By finding ways to fit activity into your day, you will feel a difference in your mood and energy levels. SAMH, Public Health Scotland and sportscotland are working together to help you #FeelYourPersonalBest.

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