Newcastle United midfielder Gael Bigirimana visited Durham Prison this month to talk to prisoners about the importance of his role as a 'Next 20' ambassador for Kick It Out.

Gael, working with the campaign and Newcastle United Foundation, made the short trip to the prison where he took part in an educational workshop with Paul Mortimer, Kick It Out's Professional Player Engagement Manager and Foundation staff.

The workshop focused on discrimination, demonstrating to the prisoners how to respond and report any form of abuse to the relevant authorities. A stimulating and engaging discussion followed with Gael, Paul and the group in attendance all involved.

The 20-year-old then spoke briefly about his footballing career, his rise from being born in Burundi to playing for the likes of Coventry City and current club Newcastle United.

He also offered his thoughts on discrimination in football and spoke of his own experiences of this within in the game.

After the session had concluded, Gael spoke of his enjoyment at undertaking his first 'Next 20' event.

"I think the event went well," said Gael.

"I'm just glad I had the opportunity to come and share my time with these guys."

"As much as some people might not think there's a second chance, there is always a second chance in life. Sometimes people take a wrong path; it can only become a learning lesson or it can become a choice in life they want to take."

"But hopefully most of them will take it as a learning lesson and try to overcome this trouble that they have got themselves in."


The England Under-20 international then went on to explain why he became a part of the 'Next 20′ initiative.

"Hopefully for me it will be an opportunity to show love and respect to other people, simply anybody who is a human being and anyone in the community."

"It's a privilege to be a 'Next 20' ambassador because you get so many young players in England and so many talented boys, so for me to be chosen to do this is an honour."

Paul was pleased with how the event had gone with the Magpies midfielder.

"It was a successful day with Gael at Durham Prison," he began.

"He is an articulate, bright young man and spoke honestly with the prisoners about his experiences and views on discrimination which were well received by the audience."

"The 'Next 20' have proven themselves to be excellent ambassadors for the campaign in this opening season of the initiative and Gael is certainly one which we share an exciting future with."

Newcastle United Foundation delivers Kick It Out workshops as part of Premier League Kicks which engages up to 600 young people a week through football across Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside and Gateshead.