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Passion Islam I December 2009 SPORT I 19
Leeds Connecting
Communities Project
A groundbreaking new initiative was
officially launched under the umbrella of
the Leeds Rugby Foundation.
The scheme aims to substantially
increase the numbers of regular and long
term sports participants from minority
ethnic communities living in Leeds and its
surrounding areas.
Backed by Sport England and Leeds
Metropolitan University, the innovative
strategy will not only focus upon the
benefits of sport, in helping to encourage
greater confidence and understanding,
but will also centre on issues of health and
home. The Connecting Communities project
“I grew up locally to the fantastic will seek the support of local businesses,
A particular emphasis will be placed
Headingley Carnegie Stadium” he added, religious groups and organisations,
upon working with participants aged 14 and
“sport gave my life value, direction and community groups, voluntary sector
over in an effort to facilitate greater access
substance and I was fortunate enough to organisations and charities to deliver their
for black and minority ethnic communities
play the game I loved professionally. message and is offering a series of tiered
to sport, fostering links between different
“If I can pass on that kind of message, sponsorship packages for those who wish
communities and identifying areas of
those values and a feeling of inclusivity, to pledge their support.
mutual opportunity and benefit.
then we genuinely can start to shape the There is also considerable potential to
Headed up by the first British Muslim
future together.” extend the benefits and opportunities of
Rugby international, Ikram Butt, the
As well as delivering coaching, the project through international exchange
Connecting Communities team will act
lifestyle messages and training volunteers visits and competitions.
as positive role models for minority ethnic
& coaches, the Connecting Communities Leeds Metropolitan University will play
communities, in an effort to fully engage
project has already staged two inspirational a crucial role in that while Hunslet Hawks
them in the project.
talks at Headingley Carnegie Stadium will offer support to the project, alongside
“It is a fantastic opportunity to create
in conjunction with Leeds Metropolitan the Rugby Football League based at Red
An Invitation
a real, meaningful difference in an often-
University. Hall and Leeds City Council.
neglected area through the considerable
A central tenet is to bring such high The scheme will also partner the
influence of sport,” Butt commented.
profile individuals from the world of sport, successful work of the Hamara Healthy
“It is an honour and a privilege to
education, entertainment and business to Living Centre and will centre on areas of
manage the scheme, especially as for the famous stadium to raise aspirations, social and economic deprivation.
me personally; there is a sense of coming particularly for the BME community.
to add us
Traore to remove tattoos
Arsenal defender Armand up everything will be gone. “My religion has benefits
Traore is to go under the It needs a bit of recovery both personally and in my
knife at the end of the time though so I’m not career,” Traore explained.
season to have his tattoos going to do it during the “It’s all about many of
surgically removed. football season. the things that are good in
The left-back, who is “If I had been into my football too - like resting,
set to become a regular religion properly before I doing everything right,
in the Gunners’ back line would never have had the being nice to people,
says religion is behind the tattoos done. I think it’s one respecting, not swearing or
move. of the biggest mistakes I’ve lying, being fair.
The 20-year-old has made in my life but I will try “I’ve always been
fully embraced Islam, which and correct it.” Muslim but I wasn’t really
forbids permanent changes Traore shot to practicing it, I was just
to the body. prominence during saying to people that I was
Traore said: “I’m Arsenal’s run to the 2007 Muslim. I don’t know what
planning to do this in the Carling Cup final and he made me change - it was
summer. They’ll put me says his faith helps him just slowly, slowly, a gradual
under anesthetic and then cope with the demands of development.”
do it all, and when I wake being a top-flight footballer.
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