1. ITV Report

The football team changing the lives of young migrants in Harlow

Changing Lives FC, offering friendship to migrants in Harlow Credit: ITV News Anglia

On a Saturday morning the astro turf pitch at Paringdon Sports Club in Harlow is buzzing with the sounds of a dozen different languages.

Pulling on their trainers and football boots are a team made up of young migrant men, many of whom have endured their own journey to get here.

Some coming from war ravaged countries, others seeking out stability and security, all united in their want of a better life and love of football.

Changing Lives FC for 17-24 year olds in Harlow Credit: ITV News Anglia

"It's very difficult because our journey is too long. We start from Sudan to Libya to Italy to France to Belgium. It's many countries we cross all of these countries to come here."

– Ussri Mahadisade
Ussri Mahadisade, Changing Lives FC

Believed to be the only migrant team in the country, Changing Lives FC is for refugees and asylum seekers in Harlow aged 17 to 24.

Funded by Active Essex, the aim is to help these young people escape some of the experiences they have endured and give them focus.

A focus on developing their skills and making friends, as well as encouraging them to stay away from gangs.

"These young people, instead of going into drugs or county lines they're now playing football and developing as a team. We want to be a top team in Harlow Town.

"We want to build this team and get them up in the leagues. I've got a real motivation to get these boys into semi-professional standard leagues and the boys have the talent for that."

– David Simmons, Manager, Changing Lives FC