Zaf Celebrates After Securing Two Awards in One Hour
The story of Mohammad Zafran is no secret. Having lost his sister and brother in-law in the space of one year, he managed to challenge his grief and anger in transforming the lives of young people across the Midlands. In a ‘surprising’ and ‘emotional’ day, he was named the Local Champion at the Pride of Birmingham Awards and within the hour was given the Positive Role Award for Age at the National Diversity Awards, a separate awards ceremony being held in London.
His remarkable dedication and courageous actions in promoting motivation and competitiveness in youngsters has led Zafran to make a positive impact on more than 7,500 young people across the region. By involving youths who would have otherwise been up to no good in the streets and parks of Birmingham in sports and education, he has kept them busy and out of trouble.
Speaking to The Asian Today, he described the night as ‘memorable.’ “Winning the national award on the same night was definitely a surprise, mainly because I couldn’t attend, however within one hour we found out. It is good to be recognised and getting my name out there. At the end of the day, it is all for the right reasons and everyone is welcome aboard.” Having been picked from over 62,000 applicants, Zaf had attended the Pride of Birmingham Awards with his wife.
“On the award nights, I firstly go to my parent’s house and then my in-laws house, just for their blessings. They always say that winning or losing doesn’t matter. Whatever it is I say on the night, comes from the heart, especially because I don’t want to embarrass anyone!”
Zaf’s journey started four years ago after his brother-in-law was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver whilst walking through a Birmingham park, but the biggest pain for him was seeing his wife go through the ordeal. “After losing her brother the way she did, she ended up suffering from depression. She used to wake up at 3 in the morning and when I used to come down and see her sitting and crying looking at his photograph and saying ‘you said you would protect me. You’re gone and I’m suffering now’ it used to break my heart.”
“After seeing her like that I couldn’t handle it anymore. I started going out in the middle of the night – local parks – and approaching young people there. At first I used to get spat at. They used to search my pockets. I said to them, if they could give me 10 minutes to explain what it is I would like to do. If I could get their attention, all the others would follow. Once I got the message to them, it was within two to three weeks I was working with 50 to 60 young people. We have football, boxing and a martial arts programme – all which is free of charge.”
His CIC organisation, All 4 Youth and Community which he co-directed with Rawait Khan, aims to get troubled youth on a path of development – by way of a six month programme. “We always aim for six months because it allows them to change their character, which also teachers them the importance of respecting their elders and other people in their community, and onto one of our projects. From that they then go on an education, at South and City College, which is then followed by work. The college has supported my projects from the start, especially Principal Mike Hopkins.” The figure of success stories currently stands at 1,200 and the programme has a number of contracts with West Bromwich Albion FC, Warwickshire Cricket Board, Manchester City Football Club (Partnership with Small Heath Tigers) and the English Cricket Board; with his intention and focus now, with the help of Lead Manager Shanaz Tahir, turning to structuring a programme aimed at just women.
Asked if there was a possibility that he might have helped his brother-in-law’s murderer through his own programme, Zaf replied, “We come from a family that is very forgiving. I’ve been brought up by my parents on the concept of if you give charity by one hand you don’t leave the other hand open. If they have changed, there is no bitterness inside me. I’ll leave everything to the Almighty.”