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A Sheppey United football player has said he has been “overwhelmed” by support after bravely coming out to his teammates on the pitch.
Defender Jahmal Howlett-Mundle decided on Tuesday (27 July) to gather his team together and reveal to them that he is bisexual.
Nervously making his announcement, he said: “I know in football there’s sort of a stigma, but I’m still the same person.”
His team reacted with a huge round of applause.
Howlett-Mundle said in a statement: “I’m not the type of person to reveal large parts of my personal life and usually keep myself to myself.
“I certainly felt 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 and Tom Daley come out years ago and they are great role models for people like me.”
The Sheppey United player said that after coming out, he had been “overwhelmed” by support from teammates and staff at the club, and added that he felt he would be able to be a “better version” of himself, both on and off the football pitch.
Marcel Nimani, the team’s assistant manager, described Howlett-Mundle as “inspirational”.
He said: “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 like Jahmal’s plays a massive part in normalising members of the LGBT+ community within football. I believe these acts go a long way in supporting many struggling sports people.”
Jahmal Howlett-Mundle felt held back from coming out as bisexual by ‘stigma in football’
Taking to social media after coming out as bisexual, Jahmal Howlett-Mundle said his time in the closet had left him “really, really down for long periods”.
“I wanted to be myself and talk about my anxieties regarding the stigma of sexuality in football, but felt I always had to hold back in conversations,” he said.
Since coming out, he said: “I finally feel safe, secure and a lot more at peace with myself, and I am now… the happiest I’ve ever been.”