Sunday, October 16, 2016

Football and cricket unite for One Third Soup Kitchen

It was a case of Chelsea and Scintilla Cricket club providing a sport theme tonight as our One Soup Kitchen hit the streets to enjoy our weekly catch up with London's homeless citizens. 

The heavens had opened. It was cold, bleak and miserable in London Town. Traffic on the A13 was bad and I did well to get there 15 minutes past our scheduled start time. Routine is very important in the work we do. At Stratford we have homeless friends waiting prior to our arrival. They know the drill. They're hungry, needy, cold and this is often the only bit of sunshine in their lives all week. I know so, because they tell me so. 

The One Third ream operate two soup kitchens, at the Stratford Centre and Whitechapel Booth House. 

We are all volunteers and mostly fund this through our own resources and goodwill gestures. 

Our homeless friends were all lined up next to Starbucks. Some of the regulars were missing and Paul was very late tonight. Luckily Mahanur had a takeaway ready for him. 

As soon as the soup kitchen hit Stratford Town Centre the outlook had well and truly changed. It started with a comical moment as an older European gentleman made a smash and grab with half a dozen water bottles. The encounter set the mood for the shift - Laughter all round. 

Best of all we had with us former Chelsea star and my good friend Paul Canoville serving up a right treat. Paul has hit rock bottom in life and dragged himself right up and it was fantastic to have the support of the Paul Canoville Foundation tonight. "It's been tremendous," said Paul. "It's on my doorstep too and I can't believe that such a rich nation like ours can have a situation like this. I fell blessed to have played a part here tonight and I will be back."

Canners is spot on. When I look into the eyes of homeless friends I can sense their pride and sheer helplessness. It's important to reassure them firstly that this is a goodwill gesture, not charity and remind them that absolutely anyone in our great city can find themselves in the very same situation in less than three easy steps. 

Scintilla CC skipper Ayaz and Ani had cooked and bought over an amazing prawn bhuna in a huge pot, which was accompanied with a side of lentils. The aroma took over the town centre and I received complimentary comments from shoppers, revellers and tourists. I was confident that there would be plenty leftovers and the Scintilla Cricket Club boys, Zisan, Juwel, Ashraful and I plotted to have a party afterwards.

Alas this was not to be. The team couldn't keep up with the sheer numbers of homeless friends who just kept coming. We rarely run short and Hafsa dished up the last portion, a takeaway for Amanda before we packed up. Canners fared better with some nifty wing play. Being the slick fox he is, Chelsea's first ever black footballer had a small taster session earlier and later protested he had no more stomach room as he had delicious dumplings waiting at home. I did a Mark Dennis, gave him a knowing look and a light dig in the ribs. 

It's important to clean up and make a quick exit after soup kitchen is over as it's awkward if any late visitors arrive and we have nothing to offer them. 

A few selfies and we all bid goodbye. The Scintilla Cricket Club boys want to do it again. Hafsa is planning a food rota and Canners has called to discuss further. My friends are beyond amazing. They rally round and get stuck in and I'm honoured to serve with them. Each time they enrich lives and educate at the same time. 

If you surround yourself with good people then climbing steep mountains is easy. 

God bless!

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Scintilla CC take over One Third Soup Kitchen

By Emdad Rahman

"Anyone who has struggled with poverty knows how expensive it is to be poor" James Baldwin. 

It was rainy, dark and bleak. The town centre was bustling though. My team Scintilla Cricket Club had taken on the soup kitchen duties for tonight. Our club captain Ahmed, Tahmina and little Aliana had prepared massive pots of delectable and delicious bhuna kichuri with beef stew. The aroma from the boot of the car during the journey over had driven me crazy. I plotted to have a bit at some point before the shift was over. 

The guests were there waiting and they were ravenous. Before we'd even set up the stall we had a massive assembly build up. Usually our friends lend a helping hand carrying the table, water and food over, or they stay a short distance and patiently let us get it all together. Today was different. They were all really hungry, there was an urgency and came right up close, forming a large huddle around us. Onlookers and tourists stopped to see what was going on. 

We had two massive pots of food and it all flew off the shelf. We had to get extra drinks to keep up. The overall atmosphere was vivacious and a vivid. The team were buoyed and vibrant throughout. 'I hope you're all here again next week,' said Rosie to first team skipper Ayaz. 

Amanda told me how happy she was after being interviewed by Tom Parmenter last week for Sky News. Billy asked about joining the team. Paul was in a hurry and left with his food. In between serving I counted 57 guests served. 

Sport has the capacity to deliver amazing change and I'm bursting with pride that my team mates joined me on the soup kitchen tonight. 

At Scintilla Cricket Club it's a lot more than just sport and we all take our social responsibilities very seriously. The club are champions on and off the pitch and a fantastic example of good citizenship and community engagement. I hope this inspires other teams to do the same - That would be pretty awesome.

This was the teams first experience of serving homeless guests and they were like ducks to water. They chatted to guests, served them food and water and their general intermingling with the masses proved very popular. After all, let's not forget that for many of our homeless guests these positive vibes are often rare experiences for them. Many guests tell me that they look forward to the interaction just as much as the delicious food. We even recruited a new volunteer tonight - a young chap called Luke. 

I never did get to taste the lavish fare on offer tonight - Ashraful and second team skipper Riadh dished up the last serving to one final guest. 

If you'd like to help out please tweet me @emdad07

Sunday, August 28, 2016

One Third filmed for Sky News

This week we had a special guest as Tom Parmenter from Sky News join us on the soup kitchen at Stratford City.

Apparently Owen Smith thinks he can eradicate homelessness within 5 years if he was to come into power. In my humble opinion these 5 minutes in the limelight career politicians should act more responsibly and stop making outlandish claims - especially at the expense of some of our most vulnerable fellow citizens.

Stevie was in floods of tears tonight. He kept saying, 'I'm so embarrassed. It took us a few minutes to calm him down as he had worked himself into a right state. Amanda gave an interview to Tom and Billy snapped the snapper (see pic).

There were plenty of new faces today - That is modern day London for you. Each one was a happy customer as the chicken and lentil soup with pitta bread went down a total treat.

We will be on Sky News tomorrow morning. If you'd like to help with a dish or join us on a shift then please get in touch with me on Twitter - @emdad07

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

25 years of super Cam Geddes

Cam swore he'd been framed 
He'd crossed Hadrian's Wall freely
So Barking & Dagenham claimed
A vice chair for the dog poo committee

Maroon blazers and a polluted lake 
Seven years as a deputy
Prodigal returns after a four year break 
To help whip the BNP

It isn't all about the money
Freedom of the borough a silver cloud
Extending Eastbrook Cemetery
Moments to make that man proud 

After the Polish Bohemian Rhapsody
Cam joins some motor industry
This was certainly no freebie 
Nor a jaunt to Milan and Italy

Panic! losing the girls choir in that wood
'Shape-Up' overspent fifty mil
Tears when a disabled swimmer came good
Macho man is not yet over the hill

Now surely a stint in the grand chamber 
In robes and chains Cam can read the scores
Darth Vader can add some flavour
With the theme tune from Star Wars

An impressive quarter century
Life for the Spurs fan ups a gear 
You're not yet quite ready to be set free 
Wishing Cam many more a happy year

Poets note: It's actually 26 years I read this at Cam's 25 year celebration last year.  He ain't perfect though - He follow Spurs. Congratulations on being made a Freeman!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Scintilla are crowned National Cricket League Division 2 champions!

By Emdad Rahman

On a day of drama Scintilla CC added another fairytale chapter to their history to be crowned champions of the National Cricket League (NCL) Division 2. 

The Barking & Dagenham outfit faced relegation threatened London Tigers 2 at Hackney Marshes with both teams going all out for a must win victory. 

Scintilla were without the gargantuan Juwel Roy  who suffered a fracture in the previous day's Essex County Cricket League clash against Aztecs CC and was unable to take his place in the team for this vital fixture. 

The home side won the toss and batted first to reach 218/9 from 40 overs. Zisan Abedin top scored with 45, vice captain Sajal Rahman (37), Aminul Shihan (35), Abul Hasib (27), Rishad Haque (22). Salman Ahmed, Giasuddin Tutul, Jamil Ahmed and Jamil Chowdhury took two wickets apiece. 

London Tigers were in no mood to roll over and had former Bangladesh Cricket Board coach Shahidul Alam Ratan on the sidelines to offer support and encouragement. It inspired the team as they defied the form book to reach 220/6 from 39 overs to record an impressive win. Top scorers were Giasuddin Tutul (45) and Salman Ahmed (30). 

London Tigers celebrated with great gusto as Scintilla, who received 8 points from the game, waited on official confirmation of the league standings. 

In the other match of the day, second placed Kothi 3 CC played Ishaque Shawn's Supernova and were bowled out for 191 in 27 overs. Supernova took 22.3 overs to reach 192 and win the game by 6 wickets thus confirming Scintilla were crowned Division 2 champions by 6 points. Also promoted from the 14 team league are Kothi 3 and Redbridge 3. Despite an impressive win against the champions, the relegation fate of London Tigers 2 was also confirmed. 

The National Cricket League management congratulated both teams (Scintilla and Kothi) Co Founders of the National Cricket League Nahed Patel (League Chairman) and Sajid Patel (League Secretary) said, 'congratulations to Scintilla and Kothi for playing their part in an incredible season in such a challenging Division Two. You both will be excellent additions to next years Division One.'

With sunset on the horizon Scintilla celebrated, but as the heavens opened and the rain showered down over Hackney Marshes, each man beat a retreat to the sanctuary of the club house, whilst others headed home as the groundsman signalled he was ready to lock the carpark. It was enough - In the year of their tenth anniversary Scintilla had created another piece of golden history. 

Club captain Ahmed Choudhury said, 'It's a meteoric rise for our club and this is another fantastic memory and fairytale chapter in our scrapbook. Congratulations to everyone - It's time to enjoy this success and come come back fitter and sharper for future challenges. Huge thanks go to our sponsors Right Call App and Apex Mortgage Advice Ltd for their support. The backing has been invaluable.'

First team skipper Ayaz Karim, who has lead from the front all season added, 'We lost today and that was really disappointing. But I'm not going to say anything else on that matter. Everyone who has worn the Scintilla shirt has played like a lion this season and it is befitting that we have been crowned champions. The hard work begins as we look forward to the next campaign but for now we will reflect and enjoy our achievements.'

Club chairman Emdad Rahman MBE concluded, 'This is the stuff of dreams. It's been a rigorous season and the competition has been immense. All the players have shown heart, enthusiasm and spirit throughout this tough season. Well done to everyone involved in achieving another monumental milestone in our history. Juwel Roy has been a giant for us this season and although he is not here today his impact throughout has been monumental.'

Scintilla Cricket Club have an ethos of community engagement. The champions took a Running Down Dementia #RDDSweatySelfie to support and highlight the work of Alzheimer's Research UK -

Scintilla Squad - 21 08 16 

National Cricket League (NCL)
Hackney Marshes

Ahmed Choudhury - Ayaz Karim - Sajal Rahman - Shaha Riadh - Ashish Morankar - Mohammad Badrul Alom Chowdhury - Abul Hasib - Rishad Haque - Aminul Shihan -Ahmad Norharif Hamidon - Zisan Abedin - Ashfaqur Rahaman Nobel - Emdad Rahman

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Legends Muay Thai become Al Isharah Tug Of War champions

By Emdad Rahman: The Al Isharah annual Deaf Run and family fun day saw the return of the highly anticipated Tug Of War showdown and competing teams included reigning champions Human Aid, Al Isharah, boxing coach Abdul Hannan's all star Brawlers Boxing team and Legends Muay Thai. 
The event attracted a huge and excited crowd to cheer on all the teams who also raised money to support the Tower Hamlets based deaf charity. Legends Muay Thai finished unbeaten to win the prestigious title to become the first new champions in three years. 
Jubilant Legends Muay Thai captain Ashwaad Uddin said, 'It's been a tremendous honour to compete at this flagship event arranged by Al Isharah. Additionally, we are overjoyed with our victory. The field was strong and to beat the reigning champs Human Aid to win the title is a tremendous honour. We are humbled by the support shown for us today and will be back to defend our trophy in 2017. 
The team at Legends Muay Thai offer the community a chance to train their mind and body, to utilise their time productively leading to a healthier lifestyle through Muay Thai.
Instructors aim to offer affordable solutions not only for the youth but adults too. 
Having seen how Muay Thai has helped bridge the gap between people of different socio and economic backgrounds in Thailand, Legends Muay Thai endeavour to bring this spirit to the local community; facilitating integration among people of all backgrounds.
Mohammad Ashwaad Uddin – Joshim Uddin - Tanbir Uddin - Yusuf Rahman - Mohammad Uddin - Dulal Rahman - Wahidul Islam - Abdul Mukid - Delwar Hussain - Alamin Rahman - Taj Uddin Ahmed - Fiaz Ahmed - Emdad Rahman

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Lennox Lewis: “Winning the Olympic gold medal was the greatest moment of my career”

By Emdad Rahman

In the run up to the Olympic Games, Lennox Lewis, the last boxer to be undisputed heavyweight has spoken of his proudest career moment.  ‘It has to be when I won the Olympics, I would say that. Yes, winning the Olympic gold medal was the greatest moment of my career, because I wanted to win the Olympics for so long. I had to actually go to two Olympics to win one Olympic Gold.’

Lewis beat Evander Holyfield in 1999 to join the likes of Muhammad Ali as undisputed world heavyweight boxing champions. He is in London and will be a key feature at SENI 2016 - The Strength And Combat Show, hosted by Bellator MMA and Fighters Inc. ‘I’m excited about it. There are a lot of exciting fighters out there who people don’t know about. They will take notice after this. They should come. If they haven’t watched MMA before then they should definitely come to The O2 to experience this event.

‘I’m a fighter and I love to watch fighting and MMA kind of gives me what I need s I’m going to be there. I’m going to enjoy talking to my fans and taking pictures with them. I’m looking forward to it.’

The 50 year old boxing legend is happy that David Haye has stepped back into the ring. ‘His speed is phenomenal and he is a showman – That’s some combination. You can’t write the Hayemaker off. I think the fact that he’s fighting Shannon Briggs is a good fight because Shannon Briggs needs to be fought. He’s talked himself into a fight and I think that’s a good fight for david Haye.

‘Obviously after that one he needs to step it up a little bit. Everybody wants to see him against Anthony Joshua. Everybody wants to see him against Tyson Fury. These guys don’t really have to go far. They don’t have to go over the water to challenge each other. everybody lives in England, so hopefully we’ll see some great fights in the future.’

Lewis reiterated his views on Tyson Fury. ‘He has technique, he is fast. His movement reminds me of Muhammad Ali – ‘he floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. That’s great boxing for you.’

Lewis was the last boxer to hold the WBC, IBF and WBA titles at once and retired as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. He feels that there is a worthy candidate to take over his mantle. ‘Anthony Joshua looks real good. He is winning comfortably and is in a great position to create boxing history. 17 fights with 17 KO’s makes it possible for him.’

With the added bonus of the interview taking place at the ‘I am Ali’ exhibition at the O2 all that remained was to ask Lewis about his thoughts on the passing of the greatest boxer to have ever stepped into a ring. He said: ‘It was a privilege and an honour to lay ‘The Greatest’ to rest and you know for me, I was sad we lost a great man that did so much, not just in the boxing world, but in life. Muhammad Ali was the father of boxing and he will always be remembered and revered. There will always be ne Muhammad Ali and his extraordinary legacy will live on for generations.’

SENI – The Combat & Strength show is the original and still the largest fighting arts event in the world and is set across the entire O2 venue on 15th and 16thJuly 2016.

The event will take place in all of the venue official spaces such as The Piazza, indigo at The O2, Building 6, Brooklyn Bowl and Water Margin.
Saturday 16th July 2016 – 10am to 7pm(last entry 6pm)Sunday 17th July 2016 – 10am to 5pm(last entry 4pm)

Event Info:

On sale: Fri, 22 Apr 2016 - 09:00 BST
Ticket Options:

Saturday Day Pass AM (
10am – 2.30pm)
Saturday Day Pass PM (
2.30pm – 7pm)
Sunday Day Pass AM (
10am – 1.30pm)
Sunday Day Pass PM (
1.30pm – 5pm)

Customers will be required to exchange their ticket for a wristband on arrival at the venue. #TheCombatAndStrengthShow

Sunday, July 10, 2016

My Nine In A Row - The Vitality British 10k 2016

By Emdad Rahman: It's that time of the year when we run the world's greatest route. It's one of my favourite races and I never train for it. Although the Limehouse Festival Run last week was a good warm up. 

I left home about 8.30. All my stuff had been prepared the night before. This is unusual for me as I usually just panic in the morning, looking for my race top, missing trainers etc. I decided not to take a bag and just go as I was. It's less hassle. 

At Monument I had a sudden funny feeling and a horrible sensation in my stomach thinking I had got the day wrong (Trust, it's happened many times before). There were no other runners on my carriage and I couldn't see any kits in the adjoining ones. Creepier still, I realised I had not spotted a single dressed up runner on the train or subsequent platforms since I had got on at Barking. Internet was slow so I resorted to measured breaths to stop choking. Suddenly The Whitechapel Mission British 10k Facebook page cropped up. It confirmed I was going - Phew! 

The haunting effect continued for at least a quarter mile from Embankment Station. There were no runners outside but there were stewards there. A short walk on and normal service resumed as I mixed in with the rather large crowd. 

I met Chloe as I was hurriedly making my to the start. I always seek inspiration from the lives of fellow humans and here was a cracker. Chloe is blind and she was running for London Youth. Wow! Just wow! We took a selfie and I told her she was amazing. Chloe is a case in point when it comes to describing the human spirit and I'm pretty sure there will be thousands inspired by her today. 

We all had one cause - To raise money for charitable causes. Cheered on by packed out street crowds, runners began on Piccadilly outside The Cavalry & Guards Club on Hyde Park corner, and made their way past some of London's most iconic landmarks, including the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

Participants then touched Trafalgar Square, before Charing Cross Road. The City part of the route took in Temple Place and the westbound section of the Embankment before turning onto Westminster Bridge.

A u-turn in front of the South Bank Lion Statue granted runners the spectacular backdrop of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. A loop of Parliament Square led onto the finish line on Whitehall.

For me, the weather was superb - spitting rain and cool - perfect running conditions. I have been running the British 10k in Ramadan and today was the first time in four years that I have had breakfast or water whilst doing the run. I preferred the fasting in a funny kind of way. I ran faster and today I actually needed a loo break on the Embankment. The hygiene in those Porta Loos is utterly medieval. 

As always, I ran for The Whitechapel Mission. If you'd like to support the magnificent work of Sue and Tony, Ramesh and volunteer Billy with homeless guests then have a look at the website and sign up for a Breakfast Challenge

Other charities represented at The British 10k included Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity, Human Care Syria, Centrepoint, Barts Cancer Institute, The Alzheimers Society, Tommy's, Epilepsy Research, National Eczema Society and London Youth. 

This is my #NineInARow and I'm raring to make it 10 next year. I'm counting on the support of friends and family to achieve this milestone. 

Lastly, a massive thank you to my friends for their support; Shanaz, fellow runner Shelim, Muzzammil, Terree, Mumtaz, Naz, Ann, Lynny, Jahanara, Nishat, Mo, my oldest mate G and my cuz Tabz. You guys are simply delicious!

Vitality British 10k London Run winners

Wheelchair race winner - Gary Cooper 

Women's winners:
1. Hannah Walker, 35:28
2. Rachel Felton, 35:43
3. Alison Lavender, 36:05 

Men's winners:
1. Paul Whittaker, 32:32
2. Peter Tucker, 34:05
3. Matthew Wiersum, 34:22  

#British10k #RunTheCapital #RunLDN

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Community unite to remember 7/7

A whole host of community activists joined community education group The Gift of Knowledge (GOK) at Aldgate Underground Station. Roses were handed out to commuters as a sign of peace, unity and unconditional  love. 

Female scholar Selina Begum Ali, founder of Heart 2 Heart, an initiative of GFK said, 'As Muslims we want to take this opportunity to show we care and we are one community. Terrorists have no place in our lives whatsoever.’

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs attended the event. He said: 'We strongly feel the need to show our solidarity and stand shoulder to shoulder with those who lost their loved ones.'
Tim Clacton from St George In The East Church said, 'It makes me immensely proud to join my brothers and sisters today in remembrance. I had someone very dear to me who just avoided travelling on that fateful train that day. This is truly reflective of our community.’

Event convenor and community champion Khoyrul Shaheed said: 'We pray and hope that our displays of humanity and heart to heart encounters will unite us further and give us the strength to reject those who seek to break us.' 

Former Tower Councillor Abdal Ullah said, 'We are in this together.’

Abul Hyat Nurujjaman, Director of the British Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BBCCI), Chairman of Taj Accountants said, 'We have always been one community. It has been a pleasure to take time out today and join all these wonderful people in remembrance. We will not allow ourselves to be disunited.’

Aldgate Station manager Mike Smith said, 'We are proud to join with our local community in remembering those we lost on that tragic day.’

Emdad Rahman said, 'We are all victims of what happened 11 years ago. London is the greatest city in the world and I'm so proud how fellow Londoners of all denominations have supported each other with genuine love and zero prejudice.’

An immaculately observed minutes silence was held to remember all the lives lost on that tragic day. 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan attended a memorial service in Hyde Park. The Mayor vowed to do “everything possible” to protect against another terrorist attack. He said, '11 years on, we must never forget those who lost their lives on 7/7, and the unity we showed as Londoners.'

Saturday, July 02, 2016

One Third soup kitchen round off Ramadan

Emdad Rahman: The One Third soup kitchen team finished the last shift of Ramadan 2016 with a biriani belter at Stratford City. Tonight's team consisted of a mix of adults and kiddos all determined to serve their community. 

Homeless citizens are no different you any of us. It's not choice but circumstances which puts them in such dark places. I mean what sadist would go out intentionally to sleep rough or in a hostel? They deserve the same respect and dignity as any other fellow being. 

The kids were briefed on etiquette and each one was on top form, serving, smiling and chatting to our homeless guests. We had a Police officer join us for a bit whilst he was waiting to be picked up by his colleagues. With Germany playing Italy in the Euros the town centre was bustling and it made sense to have the visible presence of the boys and girls in blue amongst us. 

The delicious biriani was gone within the hour. Well the punters said it was delicious. We couldn't sample evens teeny morsel because everyone was fasting and there was none to take away. That's how good it was. 

The food was provided by my Chach Moklis and his family on behalf of their deceased father. He was a true soul and his legacy lives on amongst his children and grandchildren. I should know - my family have had the good fortune of three generations of mingling with these rascals.

Our regulars were there. Rosie took extras and the Eastern Europeans were very friendly with the kids. We did miss the bubbly Amanda tonight. Bully said he hadn't seen her for a while and we hope she's good. 

Thanks to Abdullah, Talha, Zainab, Ayesha, Amina, Hamza and Aunty Dil for the cracking support.

If you see a homeless person next time you're out then please buy them a bottle of water, or a coffee or a sandwich. Smile and talk to them for just one minute. You'll fill their day with sunshine. 

If you'd like to help me on a shift then you can message me on Twitter @emdad07

Monday, June 20, 2016

All change England get second place

Slovakia 0-0 England

There was a gaffer called Roy
With Slovakia he changed his ploy
He took Wilshere to France
Drinkwater stood no chance
With the return of golden boy

Stade Geoffrey Guichard, Saint-Etienne

20 06 16

Welsh Dragons win Group B

Russia 0-3 Wales

Coming into this game in Toulouse
Russia had won the last three
All fears are duly banished
When the ball falls to Aaron Ramsey

It was a 66 World Cup qualifier
Wales last beat the USSR
Two goals to one for the Dragons
Ivor Allchurch with a late clincher

Chris Coleman is in dreamland
His proud nation is loud and merry
Bale deflects for Taylor to score
With two bites of that cherry

In Welsh Pirlo Joe Allen Xavi
There's more woe for Leonid Slutsky
Bale makes it a resounding three
Left foot finish from Ramsey

Stadium de Toulouse

20 06 16

© emdad rahman

Saturday, June 18, 2016

One Third Soup Kitchen bring in the kids

Tonight at Booth House I was joined by youth from the Splash Life Skills Project - Better known as Amzy's Angels. 
They were total stars the lot of them and straight after my briefing finished each took to their roles like ducks to water. 
'They're like Angels, they don't judge and I don't feel bad or embarrassed looking them in the eye when they give me food,' said Sharon, one of our homeless guests. 
She's right is our Shazza. Young people are easiest to work with - they're not prejudiced and rarely have hang ups. They get on with it. They don't stare. These kids chose to be here and it was really interesting to watch them. They were polite, full of beans, smiled and engaged in banter with ever homeless guest who graced us with their presence tonight. All I could do was tell them they were amazing and had done so much to break down barriers, misconceptions and stereotypes. 
Anyway, I met a Rangers and Celtic fan tonight. With me wearing the famous hoops it wasn't difficult I guess. We had a chat about the season ahead and how Rangers presence back in the top flight will liven things in the Scottish Premiership. 
The biriani was gone in no time and the youngsters served juice, soft drinks and cakes. We are all very grateful to Emma Coles for the delicious cup cakes. If I hadn't been fasting I would have caved in and devoured one pronto. 
Thank you Jamie, Tahmina, Shahel, Niyaz, Mahib, Sadi, Abid and Hamza for your fantastic help tonight. A special one is reserved for my compadre Amrana for arranging all the food. 
If you'd like to support us in person or by providing good for a shift then please get in touch - Twitter @emdad07

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Lions and Dragons

England 2-1 Wales

Showtime in Lens
No doubt a treasured tale
England boss the first half
Then fall behind to Bale

It's kitchen sink time
Roy goes mental gung ho
Vardy sweeps one back
Rashford is the last throw

Linking up with Vardy
Connecting with Delle Alli
Sturridge nicks it in injury time 
And England lead Group 3

15 06 16

© emdad rahman


Monday, June 13, 2016

Piqué leaves it late

Piqué leaves it late

Spain 1-0 Czech Republic

The best thing about Spain
They do take away your breath
And typically in the first half
They passed the ball to death

Morata told to play up top
La Roja lack a number nine
Aduriz with an overhead kick
Fabregas took one off the line

As the game entered sunset
'A goal' screams Del Bosque
Iniesta's perfectly flighted cross
And a fifth for Gerard Piqué

Stadium de Toulouse

13 06 16

© emdad rahman

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Poland get first ever Euro win

Poland 1-0 N Ireland

The Irish are in town
And there's not a single frown
Michael O'Neill's men create a din

Milik gets the fame
With the only goal of the game
Poland get a first ever Euro win

Stade de Nice, Nice

12 06 16

© emdad rahman
Team DFB on the march
Germany 1-0 Ukraine

The world champions hit Lille
Kroos puts the ball on a sixpence
Bluenose Mustafi steams in for one nil
Ghosting through the Ukraine defence

Kroos bosses, Khedira goes close
Boateng off the line with the ball
Khacheridi comes close from a corner
But there's Neuer the German brick wall

As the clock runs down
Low unleashes Schweinsteiger
Ozil tees it perfect
Clinical is the old warrior

Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille Métropole

13 06 16

© emdad rahman


Modric missile earns Vatreni win

Croatia 1-0 Turkey

Srna and Perisic struck the wood
Corluka's head don't look good
Modric strikes an absolute missile

Rakitic and Turan compete
Fans pound the drum beat
But Turkiye just lacked the guile

Parc de Princes

12 06 16

© emdad rahman

Sonali Othith 40 plus football moves the game forward

Emdad Rahman: I'm currently reading a book called 'Retired' (review coming soon). It's written by Irish stand-up comedian Alan Gernon and talks about the pitfalls faced by footballers coming to the end of their careers. It's a fascinating read and splits opinion right down the middle. I met the Author at the launch of Fleet Street Sport & Media Group, which amongst many services also promotes the health, wealth and welfare of footballers and their families.

Football as a sport has a big impact on mental health and affects self-esteem, identity and many relationships. I have read a study where one in for fans claimed that football was one of the most important things in their lives. This year I had the pleasure of participating in the Sonali Othith 40 years plus veterans tournament 2016 for Dawatul Islam, who I had played for as a youth footballer. Thirty years on and it was nice playing with the boys again. Reaching 40 has served a timely reminder of just how popular football is in the community.
The summer league had six teams participating and the enthusiasm all round was great to experience. It made me think about aspects of our lives which Gernon highlights in his book. Let's look at the phenomena of the retired footballer. One day the world is their oyster and then they retire, sudden or after years of service, and the world comes to a standstill. Apart from a handful, who go into TV, punditry, coaching and maybe business, many have to retrain for a new career Or find something to keep themselves ticking over. Quite a few can’t handle being out of the limelight - no selfies, adulation, autographs, invites. Some turn broke within a very short time, whilst others suffer with major social issues, marital break ups, bankruptcy, alcohol/drugs dependency, gambling, which they struggle to overcome.

Although the lives of all the veterans participating at the Sonali Othith 2016 Masters differ vastly from their professional millionaire superiors there can be parallels in what happens after these people reach a certain age when they have to step away from the level of the game they have played for so long. Most vets I know hold down a job or have business or family commitments they take care of on a daily basis. Football is a release for them which provides physical and mental stimulation. My friends and I play football at Mulberry Leisure Centre on a Friday and although WhatsApp is good it's the only time we actually get to meet physically as a group. The experience is one we look forward to with great gusto. It's a treat at the end of a hard working week and sets us up for a productive and relaxing weekend ahead. This is not unusual. The Leisure Centre has pockets of bookings, all mates getting together for a football social on a Friday night. This happens all over the city, in fact the country, continent and planet. Do you get my drift? It's not just football is it? In fact football improves life quality.

In 2010 the Mental Health Foundation said that for people with depression, “Comparative studies have shown that exercise can be as effective as medication or psychotherapy”. Football helps everyday people and helps break isolation and depression.
Which brings me back to the 5 a side tournament. Poplar were worthy winners of the 2016 40 years plus showcase with Masud Miah a worthy recipient of man of the tournament. Dawatul Islam were the surprise package and raised many eyebrows to finish second. Shagor showed great character to finish in third place on the last day, and Shadwell, CAG and Ocean contributed to a successful tournament. Every player was an ambassador and each team served to remind us of how important it is to remain active at an age where many lapse into a retirement mindset.

The team at Sonali Othith for years have been at the forefront of promoting sports amongst the older generations. It keeps a section of the community active and productive. It helps people feel significant, relevant and in touch. It promotes a feel good factor which is good for overall wellbeing. Sonali Othith remains active in the field and recently also held the Friendship Cup, comprised of senior members of various UK welfare organisations, and which was won by the greater Lamakazi Welfare Association.
I've spoken to Dawlath Khan and Faruque Ahmed and there's some exciting projects planned. With the interest shown I can see a walking football tournament coming soon to accommodate the interest shown. In fact such has been the demand that Sonali Othith are now in the process of setting up a similar league for the winter. Then there is also the 8 a side Masters tournament in August which should be another exciting day out. In fact Sonali Othith may go further and even arrange a cup format for 45 year olds and above. This is testament to not only the hard work of Sonali Othith but also the positive mindset of a community that looks to increasingly keep active as the years roll on.

Sonali Othith means golden past but that doesn't mean that this is a place where golden oldies reminisce the good old days. It is a platform from which participants look at the past to ignite the future.
Football is a great medium to bring people together and promote an active and healthy life and I hope Sonali Othith will continue to engage with hard to reach individuals using the beautiful game to reach out and make contact. As they say, sports for all, sports for life.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Welsh Dragons get a first ever Euro win

Wales 1-0 Slovakia

Land of My Fathers belts out loud
With magic moments from Marek Hamsik 
Sheer heroics though from Ben Davies
The Spurs man right in the thick

Gareth Bale with a scorcher
Wales' first on target shot in the game 
The Falcons don't like the Welsh dragon
Ten years ago he'd done the very same

Slovakia toiled and it soon paid off
Duda put his team back in the fray
Of course Skrtel celebrated hard
The last to score against Wales was Pele

But they end up dancing in the valleys
Chris Coleman can't hide his delight
Hal Robson-Kanu scuffs a winner
And Welsh eyes tonight shine bright

Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux

11 06 16

© emdad Rahman

England held in Marseille

England 1-1 Russia

Whilst violence flared in Marseille
Roy's boys looked like they meant it
And then came the breakthrough
The free kick from Dier exquisite

Injury time and for some is a tragedy
Though not quite Macbeth
A lifeline for Leonid Slutsky
As Berezutski loops one at the death

Stade Velodrome, Marseille

11 06 16

© emdad rahman

Swiss clip valiant Eagles

Albania 0-1 Switzerland

The brothers Xhaka lock horns
It's historic sibling rivalry
Shaqiri's whipped corner so clean 
More so than the shorts of Behrami

Early delight for the Swiss
Hoffenheim's Schar with the goal fix
Blow as the skipper sees red
Lorik Cana straight into the mix

6 could have played for Albania
10 could have joined the Swiss
The Eagles should have won it
But La Nati seal it with a kiss

Stade Bollaert-Delelis, Lens Agglo

11 06 16

© emdad Rahman