When Jamal Musiala moved his family to Southampton at the age of seven, he did not speak a word of English. FC City Central from the heart of the city still offered him the opportunity to pursue his passion for football. Now the 18-year-old super talent from FC Bayern is giving something back to the leisure club and its community.
Almost 27,000 people. Just over 10,600 households. 55 percent of them classified as “white”, 45 percent as “non-white”. The city center of Southampton, like almost every other in England, stands for multiculturalism, for diversity – but also for problems. According to official authorities, around 37 percent of the residents in the so-called SO14 district are unemployed;
“It is not the most pleasant place on earth,” says Rosh Bhatti in an interview with SPOX and Goal sighing, “even in broad daylight you see people who are prostituting themselves or dealing in drugs. Unfortunately, that is part of it here.” What helps many children and young people against the dark side of the big city? Sports. Especially soccer.
That is why Bhatti, 45, has been out and about in the heart of Southampton several times a week for many years. He visits schools, gyms and football fields with the task of getting boys and girls excited about football. At some point, the scout of Southampton FC sends the most talented to the Staplewood Campus, the training ground of the “Saints” west of the city center, to play with the young bosses of the English first division team trained by Ralph Hasenhüttl.
Rosh Bhatti: “City Central means equality”
The first stop for all those interested in football is FC City Central – a leisure club in the SO14 district, where there are no outsiders, but where fun comes first. A bit of playing in the cage and leaving the dreary everyday life behind you – regardless of whether you pass as rich or poor, as a Christian or Muslim or as “white” or “non-white”. The club sets an example and employs coaches from all over the world. “City Central means equality,” says Bhatti.
The scout knows what he’s talking about. He founded the club with his brother Jazz in 2001 and had been on the pitch himself for over a decade before he was hired by the “Saints”. “In more than 15 years I haven’t even noticed that a child has been discriminated against or racially insulted,” says Bhatti, “City Central forms many friendships for life – between families of different origins, including between the children themselves.”
Jamal Musiala came to Southampton when he was seven
Jamal Musiala can confirm that. Today’s FC Bayern professional came to Southampton for four months from Fulda in October 2010 at the age of seven with his family and the dream of following his role models Ronaldinho, Zinedine Zidane and Lionel Messi and becoming a professional footballer. In contrast to other clubs, City Central accepted him and gave him the opportunity to quickly find social connections on the island in addition to playing football.
“Not everyone has the chance to go straight to the academy of a top club,” says Wai Wan, Musiala’s first coach in the U7 shy and didn’t speak English. But in the end his talent spoke for him. “
One of his closest friends from their time together at City Central is Levi Colwill, a boy from Southampton who was exactly the same age to the day and who later, like Musiala himself, first made it to the academy of the “Saints” and then to Chelsea FC. Today Colwill is on loan from second division club Huddersfield.
“My time in England means a lot to me. I am very grateful that, as a 7-year-old boy from Germany who couldn’t speak a word of English, I was welcomed by City Central FC in Southampton. I made friends through football . The people and coaches there were so inspiring and encouraging. They made my start in England so much easier, “said Musiala in an interview with SPOX and Goal.
The Jamal Musiala City Central Cup in Southampton
For this reason, the German national player is now giving something back to the leisure club and its community. He and his family have organized a youth tournament called the Jamal Musiala City Central Cup, which from now on will take place regularly on the club’s training grounds. It is less about helping the club in financially difficult times. The focus is on conveying values such as respect, empathy, gratitude, responsibility and self-care. Values that helped the 18-year-old on his way to becoming a professional.
“Not only the best athletic teams, but also the fairest teams should be rewarded at this tournament”, explains Bhatti and reports after a first trial tournament in July with around 80 children from the age groups U7 and U8, U9 and U11 of a “learning effect” at the Boys and girls.
“A couple of coaches have already told me that the children don’t grab the ball immediately during training and instead ask much more often: ‘Hey Coach, how are you? Can I help with anything?’ Jamal is a huge influence on them, he is a hero, many older people in the community remember him and look up to him with hope. The positive thing about him is that he is an incredibly humble and polite guy who despite his rapid development is not aloof. That is one of the keys to his success. This is what his family, especially his mother, gave him. And that is what he is trying to convey to the children here in Southampton and at City Central. Talent alone not everything.”
Jamal Musiala sent video messages to the children
Due to the corona, a visit to Musiala has not yet been possible, but the midfielder sent the children at City Central several video messages and signed jerseys to Southampton as part of the first trial tournament. “At FC City Central they let the children dream, despite all the hardships that some children have to endure. It is a great honor for me to be able to give something back now. It is so important to give children values for life and that they Dare to dream. I am very happy to be able to support the people at City Central FC who are doing a great job for the community in Southampton, “says Musiala.
Dragos Cavasdan, the chairman of the association, shows up in conversation with SPOX and Goal overwhelmed: “We couldn’t be more grateful to know this boy. Aside from his footballing skills, which are outstanding, the way he speaks in interviews and acts on the field gives me hope that I’m Football still gives reasonable, well-thinking people. “