Newcastle United foundation coach praised by Alan Shearer and honoured with city centre mural

  • Ismael Bamba and Alan Shearer discuss the mural dedicated to the Premier League Community Captain in Newcastle city centre

A Newcastle United Foundation coach has been honoured with a huge mural in the city centre and received praise from Alan Shearer for his work in the community.

Ismael 'Ish' Bamba moved to Newcastle in 2006 as an 11-year-old after his family had fled the civil war in Ivory Coast.

He joined football sessions led by the Premier League when he was 16, helping him to settle in England. The sessions inspired him to go into coaching, eventually joining Newcastle United Foundation and helping other youngsters in the community.

He has now been rewarded for the impact his coaching has had on the local area, being named a Premier League Community Captain and having a mural dedicated to him near St James' Park on Morden Street in Newcastle.

Ismael Bamba's mural is near St James' Park in Newcastle city centre. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

"It's pretty amazing," he told ITV Tyne Tees. "I haven't got used to it yet.

"Having grown up in Newcastle, seeing my face painted right at the heart of the city centre is massive.

"I still haven't got over it and I don't know if I ever will. I'm very grateful for being the one nominated by the Premier League. It is amazing for me."

Mr Bamba's community efforts have been inspired by an ambition to give something back after taking so much from his own experience through the Premier League Kicks initiative.

"I got inspired by the coaches that used to run the sessions and decided to get involved so stuck around and made my way up into the local football club," he explained. "It's really important to have a place where you can come and enjoy your game of football with friends feel safe, feel included and feel part of a team.

"It's a privilege to be able to sort of give that back to the young people who are following in the same sort of footsteps and guide them through it."

Ismael Bamba met Alan Shearer after being named a Premier League Community Captain. Credit: Premier League

Mr Bamba's efforts have also been praised by Alan Shearer with the Newcastle United legend present as he saw the mural for the first time last week.

"I think he's a great example," Shearer told ITV Tyne Tees. "I mean he's probably been modest on himself as he makes it sound so easy.

"But what he's been through as an 11-year-old, leaving his country to come to Newcastle and go on and achieve and do what he's done.

"The Premier League has recognised him for all his hard work and commitment and I think he is a great example to everyone around."

Alan Shearer returned to Wallsend Boys Club last week. Credit: Premier League

Shearer knows more than most about the importance of grassroots football, having come through the ranks at Wallsend Boys Club before going on to become the record goalscorer in the Premier League and at Newcastle United.

He went back to his former club last week after helping to unveil the mural and was taken aback by the work it continues to do for the community.

"Without grassroots football, there is no Premier League," he said. "That's why there's such a huge investment into it because we all wanted to play football and we all love football.

"Going back to Wallsend Boys Club last week and saw the great work that's gone on and has been for a while. It has a community hub in the clubhouse and a 3G pitch.

"We know how many games get cancelled over the winter so to have that 24/7 is a great example of what can be achieved."

The Premier League will celebrate the Community Captains over the next two weeks as part of the 'More Than A Game' campaign.

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