Gael Bigirimana

Newcastle United midfielder Gael Bigirimana has been announced as part of a new initiative, entitled the Next 20.

Launched by Kick It Out, the campign champions 20 young football stars across the Premier League, Football League and Women's Super League (WSL).

The Next 20, which was introduced as part of the organisation's Season of Action to mark its 20-year anniversary, will see players including Bigirimana, Arsenal full-back Carl Jenkinson, Sheffield United defender Harry Maguire and Everton Ladies star Toni Duggan raise awareness of Kick It Out through a varied set of activities within the community.

Twenty-year-old Bigirimana arrived in Britain as an asylum seeker. As an 11-year-old, he turned up at Coventry City's training ground asking if he could have a trial. A few years later, he would be turning out for the Sky Blues first-team and earned a move to the Magpies in the summer of 2012.

Bigirimana believes the Next 20 programme will educate a number of people and feels his background will assist him in promoting the key values of Kick It Out.

"My upbringing is probably a bit different to other people but I think it's important that people are made aware of the difficulties some of us face," he said.

"Kick It Out stands for equality and inclusion, I want to relay the importance of that message to others."

Kick It Out chairman Lord Herman Ouseley, is thankful that Bigirimana and a host of others have decided to back the Next 20 programme and help progress the work of the charity.

He said: "We have had great ambassadors over our 20 years of campaigning and we believe this generation of young footballers will help us in rooting out discriminatory behaviour."

The Next 20 players are: Carl Jenkinson (Arsenal), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal Ladies), Danny Rose (Barnsley), Jason Lowe (Blackburn Rovers), Dylan Lall (Brighton & Hove Albion), Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea, on loan at Nottingham Forest), Callum Wilson (Coventry City), John Stones (Everton), Toni Duggan (Everton Ladies), Andre Wisdom (Liverpool, on loan at Derby County), Daniel Powell (MK Dons), Gael Bigirimana (Newcastle United), Nathan Redmond (Norwich City), Jamaal Lascelles (Nottingham Forest), Michael Harriman (Queens Park Rangers, on loan at Gillingham), Harry Maguire (Sheffield United), Jack Butland (Stoke City, on loan at Barnsley), Ben Davies (Swansea City), Wes Foderingham (Swindon Town), Romaine Sawyers (Walsall)