Royals keeper supports PFA eventRoyals first team goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi recently supported a community education evening facilitated by Reading FC Community Trust and the Professional Footballers’ Association / Unionlearn ‘Achievement Through Sport’ programme.
The educational evening, hosted at the Madejski Stadium, was set up as part of the wider equality work the PFA undertakes with Community Trusts to encourage members from under-represented communities to learn about their local clubs work and encourage involvement.
Ali Al Habsi, who was part of a Q&A panel alongside guests from Burton Albion (Irfan Kawri) and Wycombe Wanderers FC (Akeal Akram) said: “I’m very pleased to be supporting such a worthwhile event that is aiming to encourage the Muslim community of Reading to get more involved with their local football club.
“As a Muslim who has played in the Premier League and across different leagues, I have never felt any barriers when it comes to praying on match days or during the week when we are training.
“I think I have prayed at nearly every club in the country including Wembley and have always felt the people in England make you feel very welcome.
“We had the local Imam here from Aisha Mosque who delivered a very inspiring and important message to the audience and I’m sure his involvement will have a positive impact with those who attended.
“I am very happy to use my influence as a footballer to make a positive difference and lend my support to both the Community Trust and the PFA in their work.”
The event offered guidance and support to young football enthusiast and was attended by representatives from different community organisations including the Reading Muslim Council, the Pakistani Community Centre and Local Mosques.
The PFA’s Riz Rehman, who helped to organise the event with the community staff at Reading FC and local businessman Bilal Saleem said: “Dave Evans and his staff have been fantastic to work with since I got involved with the club and have shown a real desire to have more interaction with the Muslim community.
“We’ve had the full support of the club and having Ali here was very important. As an Omani International and a figurehead in the Muslim community, Ali has shown that with a clear focus, incessant hunger for success, commitment, humility and faith, one can achieve anything.
“Reading FC have highlighted the pathways available and now we need role models within the community, coaches and volunteers coming forward to work with and for the club. We want to get them in Reading FC kits, feeding back to the community and encouraging participation.”