I certainly feel it was the right time to be honest with myself and my loved ones and by being open about my sexuality, maybe it will give others the confidence to follow suit, says Sheppey United defender Jahmal Howlett-Mundle
A part-time footballer has taken the brave decision to announce to his team-mates that he is bisexual.
Jahmal Howlett-Mundle, 24, who plays in the ninth-tier of English football for Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division side Sheppey United, was filmed by his club as he told his supportive team-mates about his sexuality before Sheppey United’s pre-season friendly at Ashford United last night.
“I’m not the type of person to reveal large parts of my personal life and usually keep myself to myself,” Howlett-Mundle said in a statement that he posted on the club website.
“I certainly feel it was the right time to be honest with myself and my loved ones and by being open about my sexuality, maybe it will give others the confidence to follow suit.
“Football still has room for improvement in terms of players coming out and being themselves but with the likes of Thomas Hitzlsperger and Thomas Beattie having done so, it’s slowly starting to evolve. We have seen other sports people like Gareth Thomas (rugby) and Tom Daley (diving) come out years ago and they are great role models for people like me.
“I believe I’ll be a better version of the Jahmal you already know. Whatever anyone’s sexuality, you should not be treated any differently – I’m just as hungry as any other player to step onto the football pitch and give my all to win for our team and our supporters.
“I always wished I had somebody that looked like me, that grew up where I grew up and played football to look up to when I was younger.”
Marcel Nimani, the assistant manager, added: “Jahmal is a great footballer and leader for us on the pitch and an inspirational influencer off the field.
“In the 21st century, sexual orientation of a person is a normal existence in our society, but unfortunately in football it’s not quite the case. Bravery acts like Jahmal’s play a massive part in normalising members of the LGBTQIA+ community within football. I believe these acts go a long way in supporting many struggling sports people.
“I thank Jahmal for the trust that he has put into our club and we as a club are fully supportive of Jahmal in what is an emotional time for him.”
After revealing his sexuality to his team-mates, while being filmed by the club’s Twitter account, the centre-half received a round of applause, admitting “I know that within football there is a sort of a stigma,” about footballers coming out.
“I’m overwhelmed by the support I’ve received by my teammates and the staff here at Sheppey United since I told them the news.
“The club have been great in supporting me and I look forward to having a great season with them as we look to start our promotion push at the weekend,” added Howlett-Mundle.
Sheppey United kick-off their Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division campaign with a trip to Tunbridge Wells on Saturday (15:00).
Visit Sheppey United’s website: www.sheppeyunitedfc.co.uk