Student sport coach stars in film with refugee football friends

Sport psychology master’s student Ellie Fox volunteers with Toxteth’s Comfort Angels who feature in new documentary by shado

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Sport psychology master’s student Ellie Fox has appeared in a short documentary about the inspirational refugee football team based in Toxteth that she has volunteered with for the past three years.

The club, called Comfort Angels, is led by Comfort Etim who sought refuge in the UK as a teenager. She created the team to unite fellow refugee women from the Liverpool community in the beautiful game, something that Ellie is also passionate about.

Player, coach and friend 

“Football has always been a big part of my life and has always meant a lot to me. But since being involved with this team, the love and passion for the sport has gone to another level. Just to see the difference it has made to these ladies’ lives and to be a part of their journey as a player, a coach and as their friend is something I am so grateful for.”

Thirty women of multiple nationalities who have fled conflicts, political regimes and persecution meet each week to play. They have now become stars of the small screen thanks to a documentary released by shado – a multimedia platform of artists, activists and journalists, who bring people together and celebrate stories of social justice.

The short film tells the incredible story of the team, many of whom are grateful for the support Ellie has shown them since the Liverpool County FA linked her up with the team.

“These women are inspiring. They have all come from different walks of life and have different backgrounds, some that have been really challenging for them. But when they come on a Monday for training with a ball at their feet, it allows them to forget about everything and have time for them to enjoy the opportunity to play football. Many ladies have come to me to express how thankful they are just to get the opportunity to play as they would not get this experience in their country.”

Ellie has also combined her time with the team as part of her sport science studies at LJMU. For her undergraduate dissertation she explored the psychosocial experiences of women participating in recreational football and how it can help women’s day to day lives physically, mentally, and socially.

Making a difference in the wider community 

Zoe Knowles, Professor of Engagement and Learning at the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, said that Ellie’s dedication to Comfort Angels is something to be incredibly proud of, and highlights the difference the LJMU community is making in Liverpool.

“The world of sport can often unite people during difficult times, and we’re so proud of Ellie and her voluntary work with the team that is making such a difference to the lives of women who have found safe solace in Liverpool. We encourage all our students to not only learn and grow academically during their time studying with us, but to embrace how they can make a difference to others in the wider community.”

As the team has developed, Ellie has taken on a more prominent role, leading the team during monthly ‘She Inspires’ tournaments and is now undertaking FA coaching qualifications to compliment her MSc with the School of Sport and Exercise Science.  

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Ellie hopes to become a chartered sport and exercise psychologist in the future and to continue her LJMU journey by taking part in the Football Exchange Women’s Network which will host its inaugural event this summer.


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