A Kenyan footballer who travelled to the UK to study has become the first person to be nominated for an award as part of Sunderland University’s Rate Your Mate campaign in recognition of the lengths he goes to help others.
Semi-professional footballer John Mbandi, 32, relocated from his home in Kenya to study Sports and Exercise Sciences in the North East of England.
While in the UK, John has been giving up his free time to work with a group of between 15 and 20 spinal and brain injury patients from the charity Headway. As well as playing football with them, he has also taken them to the gym and led basketball sessions.
When not helping and supporting Headway, John volunteers for the University’s Institute of Sport and also coaches on the university’s football teams while working towards his FA Level 2 in football coaching.
He was nominated for the award by Rob Graham, a sport and development officer at the university, who decided to put John’s name forward after seeing the lengths he went to in order to help others. The Rate Your Mate initiative aims to shine a light on students who go above and beyond their studies to help others and nominations can be made by friends of the nominees who are also based at the university.
John says his family back home in Kenya, which includes five brothers and two sisters, are very proud of his award although he is very modest about his efforts, saying: “I just wanted to give something back to the people of the North East who have been so kind in welcoming me here and giving me the opportunity to live in Sunderland.”.