26 Jul 2019
When Mujahed Aqlan was just 18 years old he had to leave his home country of Yemen as it just wasn’t safe for him to live there anymore.
“Some people in Yemen can be crazy, they don’t care about life,” Mujahed, now aged 22 said, “it was hard to leave but I knew I couldn’t stay.”
Mujahed has been living in the UK for four years and has been granted refugee status. Currently living in Oak House in Cardiff which is a supported housing scheme run by United Welsh to help people live independently, football has always been a constant for him.
“Football is my life. Back in Yemen, I played professionally, it’s always been something that I’ve loved ever since I was a young boy so when I finally was more settled in Cardiff, I signed up to play for as many different football teams as I could,” Mujahed said.
It was through one of these four football team that he was spotted and asked to try out for the Wales team for the Homeless Football World Cup.
“At first, I didn’t know what it was but when I went to the trial and they told me all about it and then said I was a revelation and that I had got a place in the team I was so, so happy.
“Every day since I wake up and I am just so excited. We’ve been together now for six weeks training hard and I am just enjoying everything. I’m a bit like the joker as I have played everywhere left wing, right wing, left back, right back – people say that I’m fast. I had a bit of a scare the other week when I got injured and thought I might not be able to play I was so worried but thankfully it is all ok now.”
Mujahed says it’s been the best experience of his life. “All the teams are going to be living in the same place for 10 days, it’s a great, great experience. I just want to cry I’m so happy I’m a part of it. I’ve made a lot of friends and it’s the best thing I can do.
“When I told my parents, I was going to be playing for Wales they were so happy for me, so proud. It’s a big responsibility and I want to do everything I can to win that tournament for Wales, it’s home now.”
The Homeless Football World Cup is taking place in Cardiff from July 27th to August 3rd. All events are free and for more information please visit https://homelessworldcup.org/