Courage of star player who fled Afghanistan

Said receiving his award.
Said receiving his award.
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A brave teenager who fled Afghanistan and went on to win a rugby scholarship with Castleford Tigers has been honoured for his bravery.

Said Jamal was just 11 when he and his family escaped the war-torn country after his father was killed by the Taliban.

Said was VIP at Grand Final.

Said was VIP at Grand Final.

After the family settled in South Yorkshire, Said took up rugby at school and went on to join junior league club Dearne Valley Bulldogs - a team he captained despite not speaking English.

He then signed for Castleford after impressing the club.

Two weeks ago, Said was awarded the Overcoming Adversity Award by BBC sports presenter Tanya Arnold at the Sheffield Celebration of Sport Dinner.

And last Friday, he was overwhelmed to be called up by Rugby Football League chairman Nigel Wood, who invited him as a VIP to the Grand Final between Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves at Old Trafford.

At the event he handed the match ball to referee Robert Hicks ahead of kick off in his Dearne Valley strip.

Said, who is still an under 16 player for Dearne Valley, said: “It was great to win the award and I was really nervous on Saturday presenting the match ball at the Grand Final, both nervous and excited at the same time.

“I didn’t find out until the Friday night when I got a phone call from Nigel Wood so it all happened really quickly.”

Said, who now speaks fluent English, dreams of signing as a professional player for Castleford - and also wants to become a cardiologist.

He said: “I’m in my second year at Cas now and I love it here.

“It’s my ambition to play Super League for Castleford Tigers. That would be a dream come true for me.

“It’s really nice to have been recognised but the media attention is a little weird. It’s so great to receive everyone’s support though.”