BREWERS striker Nasser El Khayati is helping forge links with Burton’s muslim community.
The striker and members of the Burton Albion Community Trust visited the town’s Uxbridge Street mosque in order to develop stronger ties.
The visit was part of the multicultural work the trust undertakes with the Professional Footballers’ Association, which includes staff development and community facilitation.
The Albion visitors observed prayer, chatted with mosque leaders and talked about initiatives that can be explored.
Nasser said: “It’s important for the football community and the mosque. There are a lot of young people here, some with dreams of being a football player but the problem is that they might not believe that much because of their Muslim background.
“I’m happy to be part of helping them believe, showing them the example that I can do it and they can as well. People come and see me play and see a muslim on the pitch and realise it’s possible for everybody.
“When they come and see the atmosphere and how nice it is in the stadium it can only be a good thing.”
Mohammed Tariq, speaking for the mosque, is a Burton Albion supporter and was delighted to extend a welcome to the club and its trust.
“The more we engage the more we can understand each other and the more our children can look towards football. We do look to cricket but football is the national sport in England and a lot of Asians are playing it and looking for a breakthrough and what better breakthrough than with Burton Albion?
“Hopefully, after this meeting we can work with the trust, put on more activities for the kids and move forward. We are from Burton and part of Burton Albion.”
Riz Rehman, a project worker for the Professional Footballers’ Association, said: “A lot of clubs want to do more outreach work and reach the wider community. With the Asian/muslim community there has been a hesitation in engaging with them. But I know there is a great desire within Burton Albion Community Trust to grow that relationship.
“It was important to get Nasser here, to get the trust staff here, so that they could observe prayer, see how peaceful it was. It was important for the mosque to open its arms to them and tell them to come on a midweek where there is 300 kids here and invite the trust to share its programme.
“It’s a great step forward.
“Nasser is a great role model for the community. Now what we need are role models from within the community, coaches, players, volunteers working with and for the club. We want to get them in Burton Albion kit, feeding back to the community. Hopefully we can see young players coming through the academy and eventually playing in the first team for Burton.”