By Ryan Brookes
On the brink of a return from injury, winger Maziar Kouhyar this week visited a local youth club in partnership with ‘Refugee Action York’, a charity which offers support as well as provides a safe and welcoming space in the city for refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants.
The 26-year-old has had a good start to the 2023/24 season on the pitch for the Minstermen, but an injury suffered early in the campaign has kept him side-lined since.
His inclusion onto the substitutes bench for Tuesday’s Emirates FA Cup replay against Chester was his first since late September.
Now back in training and ready to break back into the starting eleven, Kouhyar will be aiming to add to his three goal tally as soon as possible.
His recent visit to the RAY youth club is his second this year, having been a big hit following his appearance back in January, and the teenagers were over the moon to see him return.
Formed in 2002, RAY works with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants from within and around the City of York, providing a safe meeting point where people can seek information and support, learn new skills and languages and form lasting friendships. Through this, they hope to empower individuals to assist them in rebuilding their lives.
Maz himself arrived in the UK as a refugee in 1999, having fled the Taliban.
He went on to make his Football League debut at just 18-years-old, but unfortunately picked up crucial injuries leading to his Walsall release in 2019.
Struggling to find another club, Maz took up a job at KFC just outside Birmingham, before working at a car dealership.
Despite thinking he would never get back to the levels where he was playing football week in week out, he was soon picked up by National League North outfit Hereford.
Impressing upon his return to football at part-time level in March 2021, he ticked one item off the bucket list in playing for the Bulls at Wembley, where they were beaten in the FA Trophy Final.
Still working at the car dealership alongside that though, he took a risk and dropped that role at the beginning of the following season, targeting a successful football career.
And so be it, he made it back to playing full-time just a year after joining Hereford, this time snapped up by York City, who were playing in the same division at the time.
Maz made a pretty quick impact here at the LNER Community Stadium, becoming a fans’ favourite and going on to score the second goal in the Promotion Final to send the club back to the fifth tier after a long five years away.
Also a popular figure at the youth club, the Afghanistan international didn’t hesitate in accepting a re-invitation to come down and tell his stories about not only his footballing career, but his personal life and growing up.
Maz was questioned also about his international career, having represented his country on 10 occasions, including in the World Cup Qualifiers.
For more information about Refugee Action York, visit https://www.refugeeactionyork.org/