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Club signs up to Muslim charter

An important update from our Chief Executive

23 October 2021

Ahead of today’s match versus Wigan Athletic, Joe Palmer updated us with news about the club’s support for a new charter.

Joe’s programme notes are reproduced in full below.

Inclusivity is vitally important throughout society, but it’s a word that means very little if we’re not prepared to go the extra mile, embrace it and physically do something to make it happen. I am therefore delighted that this week we have signed up to a new Muslim charter, aimed at helping recognise, accept and accommodate the needs of Muslim players. Players like our very own Ayoub Assal.

One of the greatest qualities that defines our club is our determination to be a force for good both on and off the pitch. The inspirational Dons Local Action Group has flown the flag out in the community and won a string of national awards for their amazing work helping the less fortunate throughout the Covid pandemic - and beyond.

Before them, the AFC Wimbledon Foundation, Dons Trust and hundreds of kind-hearted volunteers have made sure our club is way more than just a football club.

This work isn’t just restricted, though, to helping local causes. There are times when we have to reach out in different ways in order to be the club we want to be, one that makes us proud to wear the badge.

For instance, when we sat down and mapped out the facilities inside our new stadium we were determined that supporters with special needs would be included in everything we designed.

That’s why we are one of the first clubs in the country to have a Changing Places facility and our ground has strategically-placed toilets for supporters with disabilities. Little things make a big difference but they are so easily overlooked if people don't stop and think about how to improve our world for absolutely everyone.

More and more Muslim players are now enriching the professional game and, as a consequence, the Muslim Athlete Pledge has been created to listen, learn and then make practical changes that might enable those footballers to flourish.

We have agreed to become signatories to the charter, which is a first step towards ultimately becoming a credited Nujum Gold Star organisation. The idea is to spread awareness and to open hearts and minds. It's that word ‘inclusivity’ again - it means nothing unless we take these first steps and make ourselves aware of the need to embrace everyone in our society, irrespective of race, creed and colour.

In this instance, we will talk to Muslim players about their needs before recruiting them and provide appropriate places for prayer when training, travelling or taking part in competitions.

Players will be allowed to attend Friday midday prayers at a mosque if they're not playing or travelling; we will provide Halal food and offer support as they fast during Ramadan. We will also educate everyone at our club so we all understand why alcohol is not permitted - even when celebrating.

I know this is something that Ayoub has already welcomed. In a recent interview with the BBC, he said: "Being a Muslim, your lifestyle is different. You have obligations like five daily prayers and there are some things you can't do - like going out to drink.

"The charter will be extremely helpful because it guarantees Muslim athletes what their rights are. They will get halal food, they won't have to think twice about going to the canteen and wondering what to eat, which is very important. Religion for us is very important, bigger than this world that we live in."

It's a sea change for everyone at the club, a learning curve that will help us all. Together, we can become better people, more tolerant, understanding and infinitely wiser as a result.

If you want to find out more about this initiative, then I encourage you to visit https://nujumsports.co.uk/pledge .

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