Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Harry Redknapp coaches homeless footballers

Emdad Rahman

Ex Tottenham Manager Harry Redknapp visited the National Football Centre at St George’s Park to coach and train the Homeless FA’s Team England.

Team England is the squad which is chosen by the Homeless FA to represent the national football team at tournaments around the world. The Homeless FA is England's national homeless football association.

The BT Sport Pundit and former West Ham United and Portsmouth manager met with 40 Team England players selected by the Homeless FA after completing the organisation’s Training Centre programme, which uses football to inspire individuals experiencing homelessness to positively change their lives. The six-week training centre programmes took place at Arsenal, Manchester City, Everton, Southampton, Sunderland, Aston Villa, Fulham, Bristol City, Norwich, Brighton and Derby County. 

Harry joined Team England’s Homeless FA coaches Taylor Hitchcock and James Buckley to encourage and advise the players who have now got a great chance to represent England at tournaments including the Homeless World Cup in Amsterdam. 

Gareth Parker, the head of the Homeless FA, said of James Buckley, the head coach: "He lost his adoptive mother through cancer as a teenager, began sleeping rough but has since seen his life transform though football. “It gave him focus – he is a shining example.” 

BT Sport has awarded a grant to the Homeless FA to fund training camps for 2015, and Harry’s training visit is part of a documentary on the Homeless FA being produced by BT Sport Films, which will air later in the year.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Showdown with Table Tennis stars Paul Drinkhall and James Smith

Stratford City face off at the East Village

Emdad Rahman

It’s fast approaching the three year anniversary of the London 2012 Olympics and to celebrate the arrival of Ping! London table tennis tables to the East Village - the former Athletes’ Village at the Olympic Games of London 2012, I enjoyed playing a few games with Britain’s Number one Table Tennis player Paul Drinkhall and 14 year old up and coming Table Tennis champion, James Smith.

East Village, the former Athletes’ Village on the doorstep of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London, is now home to more than 4,500 people. It is London’s best-connected neighbourhood, a perfect base to explore the capital. There is a world of entertainment, history and leisure close at hand – from Westfield Stratford City, the largest urban shopping centre in Europe, and the Olympic Legacy venues to the canalside cafes, boutique galleries and exciting restaurants of Hackney Wick.

“I have what it takes to take on this mere 14 year old,” I proclaimed as I squared up to Smith. He’s a mature young lad who has been a pupil at Whitgift Primary School since year 6. The fresh faced youngster is thankful to his parents Ian and Lindsey who were both at East Village with him; “They have been one hundred percent supportive throughout and travel everywhere with me. Their encouragement also boosts my confidence and one of the main reasons why I’m doing so well in life.”

The 14 year old from Orpington, Kent has taken part in four major tournaments including the Spanish Youth Open, National Championships and the National Cadet Masters. It’s taken a shed load of hard graft to get him there; “I work hard all the time. It’s the only way to be and hopefully it will all pay off if I make the England senior team in the future.

Smith has reached a semi-final twice and is being sponsored by Get Living London at East Village through SportsAid. He is seen as a future Olympic Champion and competitor. He added; “Table tennis is a really fun sport and anyone of my age or younger can start playing. If young people want to do well like me then they should join a club and play regularly. I do the same and I now attend tournaments, make new friends all the time and travel to interesting places. It’s a life that young people like me can reach if they have the dedication. Thank you to my sponsors for their faith in me.”

British table tennis player Paul Drinkhall is ranked British number one and has won the English Championships four times. Drinkhall represented Team GB at the London 2012 Olympic Games: “It was totally surreal, he said; “London became the centre of the planet for a few weeks. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything quite like it in my life. It was an honour to be a part of it all.”

Drinkhall took up the bat at the young age of seven. He was immediately scouted as a major talent and has since been a National Champion in every age group he has been eligible to compete in. Drinkhall’s rising star and success was further highlighted by being shortlisted for the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year twice. At the Commonwealth Games he has won two silver medals and one bronze and at the European Games in Baku in June, Drinkhall was seeded as world number 16.

In April 2014 Drinkhall became the first British player to win an ITTF World Tour singles event for 18 years by taking gold at the Spanish Open. It was the result of years of hard graft. He said; “I used to play a lot of sports alone and with my older brother who is 5 years older. My granddad used to play in the local leagues and my parents took me to a few local games. I started playing early and really enjoyed it. I haven’t really looked back since. That tournament win was pretty special.”

The family have recently welcomed a new face to the household. His wife and fellow table tennis player Jo gave birth to their son Douglas in May. Drinkhall says the new bundle of joy has added to the couple’s happy lives; “Yes, we have sleepless nights, but there’s a lot more positive energy and drive in our day to day lives. My son has added focus and I just love spending time just looking at him.”

The question on everybody’s lips there must be whether Doug Drinkhall will be a future Table Tennis star; “Who knows, says Drinkhall. “He’s two months old and it’s too early to say. Obviously there’s a good chance. I’m pretty sure he’ll be involved in sports but then you never know. He might be a genius at school. We are very interested in getting him involved in sports where he can learn about discipline and leading a healthy life.”

When talking about Table Tennis inspiration Drinkhall is quick off the mark; “The Chinese are at the top of the game, and a guy called Zhang Jike has pretty much won everything. He’s a great player and it’s great to be up there with him.”

For the benefit of readers memories, Chinese ace and table tennis star Zhang Jike was fined lost all of his £35,000 prize money for kicking an advertising hoarding in an overzealous celebrations last year.

Drinkhall has enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom but just what is required to take the leap from being a good to great sports star. He says; “It’s a really tough question because I think it’s slightly different for each person. Dedication is a must, sacrifice is also a must. You sacrifice some things and you benefit more with other things. I have benefitted a lot and travelled the world. If it wasn’t for

Table Tennis I would still be in Loftus (North Yorkshire).
It’s a great place but I wouldn’t have experienced the world and the Olympic village. Lastly, believe in yourself even if others don’t. Use the negativity to feed your hunger and prove the detractors wrong.”

Drinkhall enjoys lawn tennis too; “In other sports I love Roger Federer and just the way he goes about his business. It’s tough to watch now when he’s getting so close but hasn’t quite got the edge to do it but hopefully he will have a few more days in the sun.”

Drinkhall understands the need to inspire the next generation of sports stars. He’s cool, intelligent, down to earth, very friendly and approachable; “I always advise everybody and anybody to get involved, try it. If you try it you’ll like it, you might even love it.

“It’s a great sport to try with your friends and when you see yourself improving you’ll really see the benefits.”
One wonders what a typical week is like for an Olympic and Team GB star. Drinkhall has had to make little changes; “Now it’s very different with my son Douglas. We work harder to balance everything. I train 25-30 hours a week. Apart from Table Tennis there’s the fitness side to it. I do a lot of training and toning to strengthen my legs. In the run up to a tournament I usually tone the training down to avoid being too tired for the competition.

“My routine is 6 hours a day, 6 days a week so it is really intense. Unless you’ve played at a high level it’s tough to understand why we practice and train so much. Looking ahead I’m focussed on Rio 2016 and determined to put on a good show. 

“Table Tennis is not an expensive sport as in golf and tennis but my parents spent a lot of money on travelling. I played a lot of tournaments down South and we easily spent 6 hours travelling one way and then then spent nights in hotels. I suppose I’ve been lucky to have sponsorship from a young age to help me with costs. That way I have been lucky. A lot of people have to spend a lot of their own money so that can be tough and you don’t always get the rewards back.”

Drinkhall does have negative chinks in his armour and it didn’t take me long to work out that he supports Manchester United. He is optimistic about the season ahead: “We have enjoyed amazing success. I suppose there was always a feeling that there would be a dip after Sir Alex Ferguson retired but Louis Van Gaal has been given access to the club chequebook and United fans feel that this could be a big season in our quest to reach the very top again. It’s going to be an exciting campaign ahead that’s for sure.”

In more important news, I played both Smith and Drinkhall and cruised home with wins in both my games. It’s been positives all round and done its bit to rekindle my desire to start playing again. It’ll be a great story for my grandchildren.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

One Third Ramadan Soup Kitchen



Tonight was our last Ramadan soup kitchen with One Third. 

The blessed month has gone amazingly fast and next week we will be serving our homeless friends with an Eid feast. 

Dilwara donated a huge load of gourmet and sizzling hot dogs along with all the trimmings. 

Lois had paid for some beautiful bespoke cupcakes and Juscakes Kamal gave me another two boxes of his creations. We had a good time chatting to the guests and the feedback from them was 11/10. 

In all we served 40 guests tonight. 

Thank you to my super friends. Your  generosity benefits some of the most vulnerable people in London and I'm proud to know you all. 

Monday, July 06, 2015

Remembering Srebrenica

Westminster Abbey hosts solemn commemoration memorial

Emdad Rahman: The Solemn Commemoration for the UK National Srebrenica Memorial Day has taken place at Westminster Abbey. The memorial service honoured the victims and survivors of Srebrenica.

The killing was perpetrated by units of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) under the command of General Ratko Mladic. The Secretary-General of the United Nations described the mass murder as the worst crime on European soil since the Second World War.

The Service commemorated the 8,372 men and boys massacred in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in July 1995, during the Balkans conflict of 1992 to 1995.

Those in attendance reflected on the lessons of Srebrenica in the 20th anniversary year of the genocide, and looked forward with hope for the reconciliation of peoples and faiths.
In attendance amongst others were Eric Pickles MP, The Baroness Warsi, former Deputy PM Nick Clegg, Hillary Benn MP and London Assembly Member Murad Qureshi and Barking & Dagenham council leader Darren Rodwell.

In a moving speech Munira Subasic, President of the Mothers of Srebrenica Association said: "I don't want to talk about politics, ethnic divisions and religious differences. I speak to you as a human being and a mother. I stand before you, and you look at me as free people. Often, I stand before the murderers of our children and they look at me in the same way as you do. Free!

"Although it has been twenty years since this inhuman atrocity, some mothers are still searching for the bones of their children. Our children were systematically murdered twenty years ago, but we still cannot bury them with dignity. I live in a country where those who killed our children are now police officers.

"Help us find the bones of our children! Ease our suffering by protecting the mother from the murderer of her child. Take the uniforms off our children's murderers. If there was no justice and mercy for more than 10,000 innocent men, women and children systematically murdered back in 1995, then please shown some mercy and justice today.

"I appeal to you to stand by us to protect the most important human values. Stand shoulder to shoulder with us in challenging hatred and intolerance. Together, we can create a better, safer, stronger world."

His Excellency Husein Kavazovic, read excerpts from the Holy Quran (81: 1-14 Surah At Takwir and 3: 8-9 Surah Al - Imran) from the Great Lectern.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said in a message: "Srebrenica will forever be associated with one of the darkest chapters of the 20th century."

There were prayers, hymns, anthems and there were special addresses from Bakir Izetbegovic, President of Bosnia and Herzegovina and UK Secretary of State Phillip Hammond MP.

Chelsea and Manchester United target and Bosnian number one Asmir Begovic said: "It's really made me happy to see so many faces, young and old and so many faiths and nationalities. There's even school children here today. Education and awareness is important. We are humans - Together we are always stronger."

In his service notes Dr Waqar Azmi OBE, Chairman of Remembering Srebrenica reflected on the dehumanising beliefs that led to genocide. He said: "We all have to take action to remember the slain, and prevent the consequences of unchallenged hatred."

Abdal Ahmed from the Muslim Sports Council (MSC) attended the event he said: "It has been harrowing to listen to the testimonies of the survivors. Even now many of the bodies of the loved ones are still missing. It is crucial that we educate humanity and encourage tolerance at all times because it was a lack of this very thing that caused such a catastrophic event in human history."

Yahya Sidatt, co-founder of MSC added: "This is a dark period of human history. Nothing will bring back the beloved lost ones but what we must do is work as one to ensure this never happens again. The MSC is committed in it's support of all just causes and we will do whatever is in our power to promote tolerance and understanding of each other.

In 1993, Srebrenica had been declared a UN Safe Area, under the watch of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR). In July 1995, Bosnian Serb paramilitary units overran and captured the town, despite its designation as an area 'free from any armed attack or any other hostile act.'
In the days following Srebrenica's fall, 8,372 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were systematically massacred and buried in mass graves. It was the greatest atrocity on European soil since the Second World War.

In 1999, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan wrote: “Through error, misjudgement and an inability to recognise the scope of the evil confronting us, we failed to do our part to help save the people of Srebrenica from the Serb campaign of mass murder.”

This year is the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. The United Kingdom’s Srebrenica Memorial Week runs from Sunday 5 July to Sunday 12 July.

The theme this year is ‘Living the lessons’ – allowing survivors to tell their stories so that:

• Survivors can keep alive the memory of Srebrenica, teaching younger generations the consequences of hatred and intolerance.
• They can help combat hatred, as well as genocide denial and allow everyone to better understand what it’s like to live with the atrocity’s legacy; and
• People taking part in the activities can explain the impact of their involvement, highlighting how they have engaged with other community groups to foster stronger community relations.
• They can demonstrate key work they have done in their communities to help tackle hatred and intolerance.

There are hundreds of memorial events happening across the United Kingdom during Srebrenica Memorial Week.

Visit the website below to find out more.

www.srebrenica.org.uk





Saturday, July 04, 2015

Soup Kitchen Saturday



"I lived rough, by my wits, was homeless, lived on the streets, lived on friends' floors, was happy, was miserable." - Ben Okri

One Third Soup Kitchen were joined by special helpers tonight - a local youth group tonight as we geared up to serve homeless guests in Whitechapel. 

We got there to find a jovial team of fifteen volunteers ready and waiting. After a quick briefing we set them off on their tasks. By now a queue of hungry visitors had built up and were raring to go. 

The food line seemed to be endless. We had starters of tikka, samosas and onion bhajis. This was followed by a steady stream of chicken and meat biriani accompanied by water and soft drinks. To wrap it up we had cake and thanks to Dilwara, Krispy Kreme donuts galore. I was hoping to sneak a donut and piece of cake home but stood no chance as they were all long gone. 

Whitechapel was buzzing and we exchanged pleasantries with locals, tourists, weekend revellers and worshippers from the East London Mosque. 

Ramadan just adds to the magic and it was a festive atmosphere indeed. The youth group were a delight and a credit to their youth worker Amrana. They had been introduced to me by Sister Christine Frost MBE and it's amazing what Neighbours in Poplar and the St Matthias Community Centre are doing with the local kids. These people reflect the true face of Tower Hamlets. 

The level of sheer charitable deeds carried out by people here is unmatched and I would challenge any other city or community in the world to prove me otherwise. That would be something. 

After debriefing the youth expressed a desire to do it again. Tee and I took this as a sign that we had engaged well with them. We agreed to discuss further. 

Tonight was a shining example of team work. After all, the difference between success and failure is a great team. 

If you'd like to volunteer or provide food them please get in touch.

#Ramadan2015

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Ramadan Soup Kitchen with One Third



"People can be so apathetic. They continue to ignore the real people trapped in poverty and homelessness. It's almost maddening." - Daphne Zuniga

Tony and Jay were the first to arrive today and had a chat with Tareq and I until Kam arrived with the food. 

And what a spread it was. Rubi had prepared a feast fit for a king - Pasta, fruit, popcorn, biscuits and a variety of soft drinks. As always the punters were happy.  "You change the chef," said Billy cheekily. 

It was good to mingle with the crowd and our homeless friends. Amanda and Rosie weren't there but we had a new face in Jenny. Paul was in a good mood for once and told us that a random stranger had given him £30 after being told by his dad to look after a homeless person. Abdi had three helpings but was beaten to the punch by Jay who had four. 

In London 57% of homeless people are aged between 26 and 45 years with 12 per cent under 25 and 10 per cent over 55.

Many have one or more support needs: 43% alcohol; 31% drugs; 46% mental health. The proportion of rough sleepers with no support needs has risen to 28% this year. 

"This ones for MI6," laughed Jim as Jay took a happy group snap of all of us. That bought a few hearty and a few nervous chuckles. I noticed quite a few friendly Police officers around, more so than usual and I guessed they were there as a presence to ward off any potential trouble in light of the horrendous and tragic events of yesterday. 

The best thing about our soup kitchen is we look forward to meeting our friends. It gets even better when they clearly enjoy having a human level chat and catch up on the latest happenings and gossip. A smile and a chat is the most basic human interaction but remains one of our most potent and powerful characteristics. 

We'll dwell on that another day. Now Kam, Tareq and I need to go break our fasts. 

Ramadan Kareem! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A leap of faith for London’s Air Ambulance

Emdad Rahman: Yes, I’m chuffed to say that I have completed my latest stunt. Myself, and others jumped off the roof of the Royal London Hospital to raise money for London's Air Ambulance and a planned second helicopter for London's capital. I joined an array of abseilers to take the plunge off the helipad situated on the roof of the east end based hospital.

Earlier, Larry Lamb had taken the plunge and that obviously meant that the abseil would be a doddle. “No sweat, I’m Jackie Chan’s stunt double,” I joked with the ladies at registration.

I got to the Royal London after Friday Jumuah prayers with my mate Dulal who lives with Strauss Gurg Syndrome. No lunch today because of Ramadan so we hopped it to Shahjalal Masjid in Duckett Street. (Friday bucket collections since the 80’s and still operating from a ramshackle Portakabin).

We joked about what lay in wait for me and Dulz said he hoped I didn’t get stuck halfway down. After prayer I took our customary selfie and dropped him home. When I got to my car and emptied out the boot I realised that I had forgotten my jeans. A mini crisis was averted as I called on Dulz again. We rummaged through his immaculately lined wardrobe and found a pair of green trackie bottoms. “That’ll do me fine thank you,” I yelped with glee as I went into save the planet mode.

I arrived at the Royal London where I met Mina – Our Harry Gosling legend. Mina is a regular volunteer in the London Air Ambulance shop situated within the Royal London. I had been conscious of a sore wrist which insists on lingering (4 weeks now) but it was all fine. I was geared up quickly, escorted with the group to the top by lift and took the plunge. As I was about to descend I did slip when hopping off the edge to land on the glass and second scaffolding pole. It left me clumsily dangling off the edge and must have looked so dramatic to those watching below.  The instructor abseil gentleman expert guy was terrific, steadied me and I was offski. It took a quick few minutes and I found myself thinking of what activity to do next and what we could eat to break our fast that evening. As part of my performance I kicked my legs in a cycle motion, did star shapes and swivelled round in a panoramic gesture to impress the watchers below.

I grew up in the shadow of the Royal London Hospital and the whirring helicopter has been and still is a vital everyday feature of my life and the lives of many Londoners. London’s Air Ambulance is a smashing charity. The helicopter is based on top of the Royal London Hospital and this building itself holds poignant memories for me. My brothers and sisters were born there, and also my nephews, nieces and my three sons."

London’s Air Ambulance delivers an advanced trauma team to critically injured people in London, serving the 10 million people who live, work and commute within the M25.

A second chopper is essential and the total cost of acquiring and sustaining a second helicopter, and extending daylight flying hours over five years is £6 million.

The charity hopes to be in a position to have a second helicopter operational by the end of this summer.

To sponsor me please visit this link...


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Ramadan 2015 with One Third Soup Kitchen



"The war against hunger is truly mankind's war of liberation. " JFK

I changed my shift this week to cover the soup kitchen outside Booth House in Whitechapel. The team consisted of Tee, Sam and myself. 

It was nice to pray Asr in the East London Mosque and the prayer hall was packed to the rafters. As Shaykh Abdul Qayyum started his weekly Quran Tafseer circle I slipped away to meet up with the team. 

We set up our stall outside Booth House and served 40 Birianis that were kindly donated to us by Punjab Caterers, Walthamstow. We also had Samosas, water and cakes from my sister in law Rahima. It was a very nice Saturday treat for the punters. 

The guests went away happy and we had a few nice conversations with members of the public too. Joe told us that he was on the road to recovery and had found his niche helping community organisations develop web pages. He was doing

Ramadan is a month which presents us with the perfect opportunity to feel the plight of the hungry and homeless. It was nice serving on the manor and we knew most of the guests and passersby. It created a greater community atmosphere. 

One Third is run entirely by volunteers. If you would like to donate a dish or your time then please email contactus@rhythmcentre.org.uk

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Luton Sporting Club host end of season awards


Emdad Rahman: Players, parents, carers, managers, coaches, officials and sport writers got together to celebrate the end of another successful season at Luton Sporting Club.

A jam-packed Crescent Hall in Bury Park, Luton was the venue as almost 150 trophies were handed out to the players for outstanding performances throughout the course of the season.

Former Liverpool and Tottenham Club Doctor Dr Zaf Iqbal attended and inspired guests with a presentation of his career in football, namely his stints at two of the biggest clubs in English football.

The evening included speeches, trophy presentations and a slap up buffet meal.

Luton Sporting Club Chairman and under 12’s manager Abu Nasir said: “This is a unique club. If you look around the room tonight you will notice the diversity, the satisfaction and overall sense of achievement. Football is a wonderful way to unite and we take this very seriously. Luton often receives bad press but if you look around this hall tonight you will be amazed at the achievements of our youngsters.

“I’d like to thank the parents and my colleagues for the dedication and support which has enabled the youngsters here to thrive. Every week we engage with about 250 participants, with a large number of women and girls. Thank you to all of our volunteers, parents and sponsors for supporting our aspirations for the entire community.”

Coach Bobby Mudhar from Luton Sporting Club added: “Luton Sporting Club creates opportunities, pathways and uses sports as a toolkit for social inclusion, health, education and to build capacity. There is added focus on diversity and community cohesion. The club focus is on increasing participation, developing players, coaches, referees and administrators.

“Apart from adult and junior football we also provide badminton, tennis and swimming sessions. We have secured partnership agreements with a number of strategic & commercial partners to increase participation and make football affordable.”

An audience with Moeen Ali

'The Beard That's Feared' wows the crowd at Orphans in Need charity event

Emdad Rahman: An audience  with Moeen Ali at The Institute of Directors, Pall Mall, London attracted a large number of big hearted guests who together contributed to raise the princely sum of £260,000 for Orphans in Need’s Orphan Village in Kashmir.

Commiserations were announced for Orphans in Need CEO Tufail Hussain and his family after the recent tragic death of his three year old son Umar.

Islam Channel presenter Raheem Jung was the host for the event. He said: “We have the capability within this gathering to bring about great and positive change. We have the chance to transform the lives of some of the most needy children on our planet.

“There are children in Kashmir living in sewers. I have personally gone out to the orphanages and seen this. The orphan child indeed has a special place in any global community and I hope our effort tonight will help alleviate their plight.”

To great approval, Jung announced that the planned new build orphan home would be named after Umar Tufail Hussain, the late son of Orphans in Need CEO Tufail Hussain.

Lord Mohamed Sheikh, the House of Lord’s Peer and Patron of Orphans in Need addressed the audience. He said: “Muslim charities are carrying out sterling work in many parts of the world and I have spoken about this in the House of Lords.”

“Many are not aware that my middle name is Altaf. There is a famous poet named Altaf and I will read an excerpt from one of his poems: ‘God does not grant his mercy to those who don’t feel the pain of others.’ We can learn great lessons from that!”

The event was attended by Lord Mohamed Sheikh, former Liverpool Football Club Doctor Dr Zafar Iqbal and BBC newsreader Asad Ahmed who carried out an entertaining Q&A with England and Worcestershire star Moeen Ali.

The left handed batsman and right handed off spinner is a hero to millions all over the world. He said: “when we were young my father installed nets in our back garden. Every day we played cricket after school. I didn’t hang out with my mates – My spare time was all about cricket. My dad asked for a mere two years of commitment and it paid off.”

“Dad quit his job as a Psychiatric Nurse to coach us full time. My parents were very different. Dad was convinced we’d be playing professionally and everything we did was geared towards that.”

The long hours and the sacrificing of a cabbage patch in Ali’s mum’s garden has paid off a million fold and the England star nicknamed the ‘the beard that’s feared’ has now become a global icon. Ali isn’t the only cricketer in the family: “My dad runs the MA cricket academy in Sparkhill, Birmingham, my nephews play cricket, my cousin Kabir Ali played for England as well as my brother (Staffordshire captain Kadeer Ali).

“It wasn’t easy. Like I said, my dad gave up his job to support us,” said the Orphans in Need Global Ambassador.

Moeen’s ascent is simple and easy to replicate for willing youngsters. He advised: “We played till we dropped, every day and in all conditions. The weather was not an obstacle and even now I fast when I play. At the age of fourteen I became single minded and knew exactly where I needed to be.”

Indeed Moeen Ali was on a fast track to success and made his England debut against Sri Lanka in 2014. He took it all in his stride: “I wasn’t nervous at all - in fact my family were more nervous. I’m looking forward to the Ashes. It is a cricketing dream and I can’t wait to be fit, available and ready for selection for England. I haven’t been chosen for the ODI’s against New Zealand to allow me to prepare for the Ashes. I was disappointed at first, who wouldn’t be, but after a few hours I was ok. It was a decision taken for my benefit.”

Fasting and observing Ramadan in sport has become a topic of discussion in recent years with professionals, managers and sport scientists engaging in heated debates as to whether a fasting sportsperson can perform at peak levels individually and in a team. Ali is adamant: “For me there is no other option. Humans are very accepting in nature and I have been fortunate to have always received excellent support. I have never had any issues with eating Halal food, or being able to pray or fast. In the early stages of my career there was some scepticism from the team around fasting for long hours during the day and there was a little worry about my welfare. It’s all fine now.”

Ali could have played for Pakistan. Everyone wanted to know if he would have considered playing for the land of his forefathers. He answers swiftly; “There was never any doubt. It was always about England for me. When I was younger I was asked to play for Pakistan. We have a mix in our family. Dad is a huge supporter and is of mixed race, mum is from Kashmir and my grandmother is English. As far as I was concerned all I wanted to do was play for England. There was never any other consideration and I feel beyond proud when I step out on international duty. I am a Muslim but if you meet me you’ll realise how English I am too.”

Ali is the Global Ambassador for Orphans in Need. He is very proud of his association with charitable efforts: “Orphans in Need is very special to me. It’s all about the humanity perspective. I have the logo on my bat and this is a great source of pride for me.”

Last year Ali wore ‘Save Gaza’ wristbands in the game in England's first innings of the third Test against India at the Ageas Bowl. He explained his reasons, “The ECB supported me. My intentions were clear. I explained that it was for humanitarian and not political purposes and I wanted to raise awareness of people dying and the situation they are in. I was grateful for the level of understanding by those surrounding me as well as the support I received.”

Ali has advice for aspiring cricketers: “Be who you are, care about your neighbor’s, look after them. Be the best human being you can be and be good to yourself and everyone around you.”

With Ramadan less than a week away Ali finished with a greeting: “I wish everyone observing Ramadan a blessed and fruitful month. This is a joyous part of the year for over a billion humans, to worship, purify, unite, serve and celebrate. I hope all your worship is accepted and your needs fulfilled. Do look after your community and spare a thought for those less fortunate. Lastly, and in advance of a great day ahead, I wish everyone a joyous day of Eid at the end of Ramadan.”

WHY KASHMIR?

·         600,000 orphans in Kashmir due to decades of war; most of them live in poverty.
·         80% of the orphans drop out of education after high school.
·         Because of poverty, many widows are forced to give up their children to poorly run orphanages. These orphanages struggle to provide basic care to their children.
·         There are 40,000 widows in Kashmir.

www.orphansinneed.org.uk

Monday, June 01, 2015

E14 Stories, Stepney, Scintilla & One Third Soup Kitchen

You don't have to be on the street to be homeless.

Kam had already set up. I was running late from the cricket. Thankfully, the A12 was traffic free and I was able to make it from Stratford to Seven Kings in no time.

The food was so good there was a bit of argy bargy over someone who actually came to say hello to us but was deemed to have pushed in. The guestys sorted it out with the greatest decorum - A waltz over to the side and a mini punch up. Both gentlemen duly returned to enjoy their chicken biriani.

A very good day indeed. I had attended the E14 Stories on the Isle of Dogs, Stepney FC training, swam with the boys, cricket with Scintilla and rounded off the day with the soup kitchen. A busy and productive day.

Many thanks to Omar and Mrs T for rustling up a smashing biriani. If you would like to volunteer a shift or provide food then please message me directly.

If you need advice on homelessness then you can contact the Whitechapel Mission or Shelter.

Pattball: Where theres a wall there's a way

Old school street game bounces into London

Emdad Rahman

Inactivity, which can lead to obesity, amongst young people is ever increasing worldwide.

For many young people the only time they get to be active and play sport is at school break-times.

Break-times are short with limited space – so sports like Tennis, Golf and Cricket are not usually played and expensive equipment is needed. Contact sports are restricted or banned in some schools as children can get hurt.

The game has been around for decades but has been played unofficially but now PATTBALL.COM is working to change this.

Moynul Ahmed from Pattball Foundation has come up with a solution - He is developing a popular game which is already being played in schools and communities. And that game is Pattball - a non-contact hand-eye co-ordination ball game where you hit/pat the ball (usually a tennis ball) against the wall via a bounce and a rally commences between players.

The game has been around for decades but has been played unofficially but now PATTBALL.COM is working to change this.

The public launch will take place on Saturday 13 June 2-5pm at Nisbet House Estate, Homerton, E9 6AJ.

Everyone is invited to attend, meet the team, take pictures, ask questions and participate in a game.

Moynul said: "Pattball is a fun and enjoyable game. It's cheap, very easy to set up and accessible to everyone. I am hoping we can take this product and reintroduce this to young and old, sports people and communities."

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Demba Ba's charity night - 2 poems


Chelsea stars put their title party on hold to attend ex team mate Demba Ba's charity night to try help raise £500,000 for street children.

I was asked to compose and read two poems which I tried my best to present to the guests.

Present on the night were Eden Hazard, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Samuel Et'o, Abou Diaby, Diomansy Kamara and my mate Paul Canoville. 

One poem is about the actual project and the second is a tribute to the players who gave their time for a wonderful cause last night. 

Empire of the children

Young babes silently cry
Resting rough on a cold street
Sleepy and not one single eye is dry
Add a quivering little heartbeat

Barefoot and begging so far from home
Talib├ęs exploited and in much danger
Without a moral guardian so many roam
Seeking the elusive game changer 

To help the stricken kids of Dakar
Through a harsh four month winter
Renovated is a former air cinema
Now the Empire Street Children Centre

Demba pounces & strikes quickly
Like on that slip by our Stevie G
He'll not rest I'm sure you'd all agree
Till Senegal's little ones all smile free

Remember, all our wealth is a gift
Who of us will take it to our grave?
So spend wisely for life is swift
Fortune always favours the brave

Before I bid you all adieu 
The plight of these kids who knew?
"I am the street child" now rings so true 
Je Suis l'enfant de la rue

number7
© emdad rahman

Game changers

Tonight is a night to bring much hope
To restore faith in humanity
We think of those who struggle to cope
Street orphans who's life we pity

Ivanovich is minted Manish may scream
They crazy for that big cheque
Hold on it wasn't always a dream
Some too have bombed and hit that deck

I'd like to thank you all tonnes and tonnes 
Homeless kids will pray for the soul
Human Appeal will help the young ones
Your presence makes them feel whole

Slip Hazard, so watch out crew
Eden the global superstar
Paul Canoville, he bled black and blue
As Chelsea's first black player

Sizzling flicks from Noel and Nell
I tried so, fell flat, now sport a scar
Nor did it go to well
When I tried the Diomansy Kamara

Hello Samuel Eto'o from we
The most decorated African in history
Abou Diaby has a photo memory
Just ask anyone at London Colney

Remember this night's for charity
The kids rights we defend
Thank you True Blue John Terry
Captain, leader, legend

number7
© emdad rahman

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Scintilla Cricket Club support Dementia Awareness Week

Essex County Cricket League Premier Division champions Scintilla CC are supporting Dementia Awareness Week.

The team posed for a picture with their Dementia Friends badges and information leaflets.

Club captain Ahmed Choudhury said: "Dementia affects young and old alike. With love and support people can lead happy, fruitful lives. We are very happy to support Dementia Awareness Week and help make a difference to the lives of people living with dementia."

The Alzheimer’s Society believe passionately that life doesn’t end when dementia begins - that it’s possible to hold on to your life and to do and experience new things. That’s why the Society is encouraging all supporters to do something new during Dementia Awareness Week.

Aspirational or ordinary, well wishers are requested to do something new to help spread the word that life doesn’t end when dementia begins.

Marathon sessions.

This Friday the first ever 24 hour marathon of back-to-back Dementia Friends Information Sessions will be taking place. From 10am Friday 22 May to 10am Saturday 23 May, Dementia Friends Champions across the country will be running Information Sessions, including throughout the night and the early hours of the morning! If you're not a Dementia Friend yet, why not book on one of the Sessions!

Become a Dementia Friend or Champion.

Do something new and become a Dementia Friend for Dementia Awareness Week, if you aren't one already! A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it's like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action. From helping someone to find the right bus to spreading the word about dementia on social media, every action counts. 

#df24


Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Scintilla CC lift the Champions Cup at last!

League winners presented with championship trophy at Essex County Cricket Club
 
Emdad Rahman: Scintilla Cricket Club were honoured for their extraordinary 2014 Premier Division triumph as the Barking & Dagenham team were invited to The Essex county ground to watch Essex Cricket Club continue their push for promotion in their County Championship fixture against Gloucestershire.
 
The team was invited onto the pitch at lunch where the famous trophy was presented to them by Essex left hander Nick Browne – the first Essex player to score two unbeaten hundreds in a championship match in the same game (against Derbyshire at Chesterfield).

Eastbury School in Barking & Dagenham have supported Scintilla by allowing them use of the club’s cricket facilities for youngsters, and tributes were paid to the school at the presentation. The school’s Sports Liaison Officer Mick Rose and Head of PE Rhys Davies attended the game and ceremony. Mick Rose said: “We were looking for a local project and team to partner with, and Scintilla Cricket Club ticked the boxes. It has been a pleasure working with this team. Congratulations for the on-field success.”

Abul Hussain and Ashfaqur Rahaman Nobel were awarded trophies as joint players of the year and Rokhan Khan, 16, was selected as young player. “The dedication from these players has been excellent. It was hard making choices as all our players played out of their skins,” said current first team skipper Ayaz Karim.

Club captain Ahmed Choudhury thanked the team for their efforts: “We have always dared to dream and standing here on the turf of this historic ground today while receiving this grand trophy is the fulfilment of a dream. Thank you to Techshed Ltd for the financial support that has kept us afloat and allowed us to prosper on the pitch.”

Sushanta Das Gupta from Techshed Ltd said: “It has been a pleasure to support the team. I wish you further success and hope our partnership continues for a long time.” Club Chair Muhammad Rahman added: “This is the result of years of blood, sweat, tears. As far as I am concerned we have had a taste of elite success and it is important that going forward our focus remains on the current season. It will be harder this time and every game will be a cup final. A massive thank you to Graham Smith from Essex Cricket for providing us with valuable expertise, support and advice.”

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Hugs, back-slaps & love is all around!

"My soul does not find mercy -
Somewhere on the bank of oblivion;
There,
Where hunger freezes my bones to death."

Kristian Goldmund Aumann

And so Kam and I paid our scheduled visit to Westfield in Stratford City for our One Third Soup Kitchen shift.

Today, right from the off, we were mobbed by a group of twelve homeless guests who sat in front of the Stratford Centre in anticipation of our table and food pots being set up and laid out.

Although I'd like to think our popularity was because of Kam's classy presence or my personally initialed football coaches top, I have to blame it all on the aroma of the delicious feast we had in the pots courtesy of Nazia.

Pat was first on the scene. He's originally from Canning Town. He asked for several hugs. "You don't know what a hug means to me," he said and added: "It goes a long way. "I've suffered a recent loss in my family and I feel like I want to end it all." He pointed at my fellow shift partner Kam; "Thank you for this, the food you people serve is a Godsend and I can't thank you enough. I will always protect you because you're all practically family." 

Our chat with Pat made me think and I now have a poser for readers of this blog - Exactly what does society expect a homeless person to look like?

I honestly thought Pat with his wiry build would try lift me onto his slight shoulders and we shared a cheeky chuckle as I told him he didn't need to add permanent backache to his list of woes. 


Roy was next. "I've been homeless for five days," he said. "I'm ill, cold and hungry," he told Kam and me. Roy had two big plates and thanked us so much I had to tell him to stop in the politest way possible. Bless him!

The food was delicious and the silence from our ravenous patrons was enough to give an accurate indication of their contentment. "Delicious and amazing," shouted Petr as he had a big second helping.

I told Pat, Billy, Anjali, Mia and the rest of the crew that our colleague Nazia had provided the food and I would pass on their kind comments. "Thank you Nazia," said Mary.

As we posed for a group picture Billy shouted cheekily: "David Cameron's modern day Britain." That really bought the house down.

In all, we served around 35 people before the contents of the pot ran out with the last hungry visitor. At this point we usually clean up pronto and beat a hasty retreat after saying goodbye to our friends, mainly in order to avoid having to say non to a disappointed late guest who turns up with the pot all shiny and empty.

We are a really happy go lucky bunch and fund this all ourselves so if any readers would like to volunteer or provide a pot of food then please feel welcome to get in touch.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Ian Rose: "Achieving is created by vision and has nothing to do with sight."

I was inspired to meet Paralympian and Judo champ Ian Rose and want to share his story.

Ian is a Paralympic Medallist, Motivational Speaker and Workshop Facilitator on Goal Setting & Achievement. He was a Torchbearer and Opening Ceremony performer for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, winner of 2 Paralympic, 5 World Championship and 9 European Championship Medals.

Born in 1972 Ian contracted eye cancer (Retinablastoma) and lost his left eye and most of the sight in his right. Following many operations Ian was left with an indent on the right side of his face and having to wear some pretty thick glasses.

He was bullied at school. At the age of 7 Ian’s parents, realised that he needed help to improve his self-esteem, as he was coming home from school some afternoons in tears after being teased about the way he looked. Little did they know how the next step they took for him, would inpact on his life so much. Ian was introduced to the sport of Judo and 2 coaches called Ron Cleere and John Oke, who accepted him into Micklefield Judo Club and treated him exactly the same as the other members, with no special treatment because of his eyes.

From that point on Judo became a big part of Ian’s life and within 3 months the teasing he received about his looks stopped, because he now had new confidence.

Ian was not a natural at Judo taking 2 years to win his first medal, but worked very hard in training and had a passion for success. The longer this went on the better Ian got and he received his first International selection in 1989 whilst still in the last year at secondary school.

Competing in the European Visually Impaired Championships was a dream come true and the beginning of an international sporting career that would see him travel the world, winning 2 Paralympic medals, a World Championships and 4 European Championships.

Ian is one of Great Britain’s most successful Paralympic Judoka. Retiring in 2011, Ian was on course to represent ParalympicsGB at his 6th Games in London, but due to an injury in training he called it a day, bringing to an end a glittering international career spanning 22 years at the top.

Ian now focusses on motivating and inspiring others to achieve their full potential.

Ian say's: "life is full of opportunity, don’t let it pass by."

www.ianrose.co.uk

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sport gets up close and personal


Andres Iniesta and Serge Ibaka endorse cutting edge technology

Since Serge Ibaka (NBA Oklahoma City Thunder) and Andres Iniesta (Barcelona FC) became partner investors in Spanish company FirstV1sion 300 fans have followed suit in investing in the company through an e​quity crowd funding campaign on BnKToTheFuture.com

Fans who attended last weeks game between Zalgiris Kaunas and Real Madrid were able to watch the game for the first time from a player’s point of view thanks to a revolutionary piece of body kit. 

A 99-83 defeat by Real Madrid in Euroleague’s second group stage was most definitely the talking point for many of the fans and players. Zalgiris Kaunas were happy to endorse such innovation and decided to be the first international team to test the kit out.

The basketball players were given the opportunity to wear a smart wearable broadcasting vest (developed by Spanish company FirstV1sion) with in built cameras installed to give the audience an immersive experience.

Spanish company FirstV1sion are planning to bring innovative change for basketball fans as technology as such has never been used on a basketball court.

“It would be very good for fans or even basketball players to see what’s happening inside the game,” said E​dwin Jackson of F​C Barcelona Basquet of the Liga ACB.

Founders of FirstV1sion, Jose Ildefonso and Roger Antunez, firmly believe that what they have developed could immerse basketball and football fans deeper into the game just as in the cockpit of a F1 driver.

Over 300 investors and sports fans have invested so far in the Spanish company FirstV1sion through the e​quity crowd funding platform​ BankToTheFuture.com where they can join top sports legends such as Andres Iniesta and Serge Ibaka in becoming an investor in the company.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Rangers lose second spot but dig deep to rescue home point


Rangers 2-2 Falkirk

Emdad Rahman reports from Ibrox

Glasgow Rangers stepped out at home against Falkirk looking to solidify their second placed position.

A bright and breezy start saw Darren McGregor’s right footed shot cause a few stirs but his attempt went just wide of Jamie Macdonald’s left post. Seconds later Marius Zaliukas had another attempt with a right footer. 

Falkirk picked up the momentum and for a ten minute period in the first half they looked more like the home team. Just before the 20 minute mark John Baird’s right footed attempt from inside the box was pushed away by the alert Cammy Bell.

Stuart McCall reverted to three at the back for the start of the second half as Robbie Crawford replaced Zaliukas and an attacking foray down the Falkirk left saw Tom Walsh come close with a right footed shot.

In the 55th minute Lee McCulloch conceded a corner and this lead to Falkirk’s John Baird striking home the opening goal from a Craig Sibbald cross.

Worse followed four minutes later when ex-Leeds United and Chelsea academy player Tom Taiwo doubled the lead courtesy of an error from Lee McCulloch - leading to boos for the home captain.

Within the next 5 minutes Stuart McCall made swift changes as he bought on Dean Shiels for Kenny Miller and Nicky Clark. Rangers pressed and with eight minutes of the match remaining Haris Vuckic halved the Falkirk advantage. With the Gers piling on the pressure a frenetic last half minute saw Rangers lay siege to their opponents goalmouth. The pressure paid off and up popped Nicky Law to level the scores 2-2 and send fans off home happy.

Two points dropped mean Hibernian leapfrog Rangers into second place ahead of next week's final round of Scottish Championship fixtures. The third placed team in the SPFL will face Queen of the South over two legs to decide who meets the division's runners-up in the Premiership play-off semi-final double-header. The winner will then meet the team finishing second-bottom in the Premiership, again over two legs, with a place in the Premier Division the prize.

In his post-match interview Falkirk manager Peter Houston said: “It’s obviously very disappointing to have lost a goal so late but I’m happy with the way the team played. Playing in front of big crowds like here adds to the players experiences and will help them become better players.”
 
Rangers manager Stuart McCall said: "They (Rangers) kept going, and the desire, togetherness and the drive to keep going and not accept defeat will be needed. We'll need that in the play off games. We started the game really well in the first ten, fifteen minutes and had a couple of opportunities. We started on the front foot and played some good football. Falkirk then came into the game and enjoyed some possession. 

"Coming in at half time Zaliukas came in with an ankle injury and we had to rejig it a little bit. We had a couple of opportunities in the first five minutes of the second half. They scored from a set play and scored on the break. It was looking doom and gloom but we kept at it. 

"Going forward I'm very pleased as we made a lot of opportunities today. But obviously we made a lot of errors too. So, disappointment and emotion, because we haven't won the game, but proud with the players at the way they stuck at it. We still have to go up to Tynecastle and win and as Falkirk showed today, Hibs will have it hard, just as we will have it difficult at Hearts. No one can say what will happen. 

"Hibs are back in pole position. My focus doesn't change. We have to go out and try and win at Tynecastle.  We'll need the spirit and togetherness that we showed today."

On Lee McCulloch being booed by a section of the home crowd McCall added: 

"I was sickened to hear it at the time. What did please me was that after a couple of minutes of it, the supporters then turned it on its head and drowned out the booing with cheers and claps. That's what we need as a club - togetherness.

"It doesn't matter what has gone on last week, years ago, months ago, today. It's all about next week and the future.

"We put Lee up front near the end and he was denied a goal by another fantastic save from Jamie MacDonald who was world class today. If he'd scored, I thought that would have been justice.

"He is an experienced guy who has witnessed the highs and lows, but it's never nice to hear that kind of thing."

"The players needs the supporters as much as the supporters need the players and as disappointing as it was to hear, we've grown and I was pleased the rest of the supporters turned it on it's head."