Walid’s Story: Welcome Through Football
At just 14-years-old Walid was forced to leave his home in Syria to find safety.
Walid spent seven years in Jordan, before moving to Edinburgh where he has been settled for the last four years. He has built a safe and happy life, and is planning his long term future.
Big Hearts, the official charity of Heart of Midlothian, have been actively running programmes to make people like Walid feel at home in our community. Participants come from many countries around the world, with a range of experiences. Football gives them an opportunity to come together using what is a universal language – the beautiful game.
Through our charity’s Welcome Through Football programme, we have played our part in helping Walid settle in to life in Edinburgh, he told us:
“The 7th of May 2019 was my first day here. It was very nice, but very difficult as English isn’t my first language.
When I arrived here I was by myself but I made some friends from Big Hearts, they are very nice. I am playing with them, so we are very happy together.”
Now almost four years on, alongside his peers who attend with him, Walid has made significant progress since coming to Tynecastle Park for the first time:
“It has been good to meet people from different countries like Ukraine, Sudan and Syria. I meet people from many different communities and I have a lot of friends.
I started learning English four years ago, but it stopped because of Covid quarantine. I couldn’t go to college anymore, so I didn’t progress at all for two years. Now I think I’m getting better!
The last three years in Syria were very bad, so I need to try and forget all of that and focus on the future here in Scotland. I feel like Edinburgh is my new home.”
Big Hearts’ Welcome Through Football project at Tynecastle Park provides young people from refugee and asylum seeking backgrounds to come together, play football, and meet people in a similar situation to themselves. Read more about the programme here.
Our programmes, including Welcome Through Football, are made possible by the support of generous donors. Become a Big Hearts supporter and help us continue our journey in helping people from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds settle in Scotland.
– April 23