Eveton midfielder Alex Iwobi visited Belfast to show his support for the Ethnic Minority Sports Organisation Northern Ireland group, which encourages people from ethnic minority groups and communities to participate in sport.
Iwobi revealed he wants everyone to have equal opportunities after he flew to Northern Ireland to show his support for minorities in the community with the EMSONI, through his own charity Project 17.
EMSONI is a community-driven multi-sports organisation created for the development of ethnic minority sports in Northern Ireland, with the aim of diversifying the face of sports and integrating ethic minority and local communities together.
Founder Adekanmi Abayomi, an asylum seeker from Nigeria, who won BBC Sport Northern Ireland’s 2020 Unsung Hero Award, founded the Northern Ireland Confederations Cup – a football tournament bringing together teams from various ethnic groups and communities across the country.
Despite making several stops and meetings with fans, volunteers and Belfast’s Lord Mayor, Iwobi said he had a “great time” during his short stay in Belfast.
“It takes me back to my childhood days. I was playing with different cultures, different backgrounds when I was playing all over London and Essex,” Iwobi said at Midgley Park for the NI Confederations Cup semi-final between Nigeria and Ghana.
“I want everyone to have the same opportunity, or even more, than I did as a kid. In football you are able to experience a lot of life situations and it brings everyone together.
“I’m here to support and give back to the community. I am always here to try and show up and support as much as I can.”
Iwobi, who was born in Lagos before moving to England, added that when he heard about EMSONI’s work across Northern Ireland, he felt inspired to support their cause.
“When this opportunity came around, there was no doubt we wanted to tap into it,” he added.
“To see what they done in the past, I want it to grow and elevate. To come here and see it for myself and witness it is crazy.
“They (EMSONI) had 15 communities involved and now they’ve got 20 this year. I was even meeting with the mayor of Belfast so to have opportunities like that is amazing.
“With football there is an opportunity for everyone. I’m the same as everyone else, I’m human at the end of the day.
“Growing up as a kid I only really had support from Arsenal and my family. I’m grateful for what I had, but things like EMSONI weren’t around in my area and can only help people in the future.”