#WinWithTheJab campaign: Why I’m backing the vaccine – Sami Elslamanabi (HOP coach)

March 23, 2021 | by Matt Halfpenny


In Portsmouth’s Sudanese community, Sami Elslamanabi has witnessed that Covid-19 is an ongoing threat not just to people’s health, but their livelihoods too.

While the 46-year-old has worried for some he knows who have gone into hospital for treatment, there has also been the day-to-day concern of people being put out of work and furloughed because of the government restrictions to help keep the virus in check.

It has, he says, put a considerable strain on his community, who have done their best to rally around and help each other where possible.

But he is in no doubt that the best solution is to get things back to the way they were – and that by accepting a Covid-19 vaccine, when eligible for one, is the best way to do it.

“I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones in that I have carried on working in logistics as a delivery driver throughout this Covid period, but that is not the case for a lot of people, who have been hit hard,” said Sami.

“We have seen people in our community suffering, because they have been seriously ill. Unless getting the virus happens to you or the ones you love, you don’t always realise exactly how serious it is.

“There has also been another big problem that is less obvious in that people haven’t been able to go to work and therefore have the money to pay for things.

“Of course, we have helped each other out as much as we can with the finances and shopping and things like that, but it has been hard on a lot of people, especially because there has been no firm end date.

“But the best way to protect against all of this, as I see it, is by having a vaccine, which stops as many people getting ill and as many from transmitting it to someone else. That is the best way that we, in our respective communities up and down the country, can help each other out.”

Sami, who moved to England from Sudan 22 years ago, has recorded his video in English and Arabic in the hope that he can persuade those who share his native tongue to get vaccinated when they are contacted urging them to do so.

He is well aware that not everyone believes getting a job is the best thing to do, often because they have been misinformed of the facts around vaccination and its safety.

Those who are eligible by virtue of age, health condition or occupation, people can go to www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination to book an appointment.

Sami said: “There is a lot of hesitation because of rumours people hear that are wrong and not true. From my point of view it is safe and I don’t see a problem, and I know it is the way to get life as we know it back – so we can go on holiday and see our families back home.

“We are lucky that we have had some doctors from our community do a Q&A over Zoom about the vaccine. Some of the questions are things like: ‘We’ve heard that if you have the vaccine, it will stop you being able to have kids.’ The doctors were able to put the record straight in the session and explain it was not true, but not everyone gets access to the correct information.

“But If we can get a few more people to take up the offer of a vaccine, and that stops them becoming ill or passing it on to someone else, then this is worth it.”

While he recognises the need for boxing clubs to have been closed in order to curb the spread of Coronavirus, Level 2 coach Sami can’t wait for the reopening of gyms, which is scheduled for 12th April, providing the conditions are met for government restrictions to be eased on that date, as planned.

He knows from the messages he has received that the past few months have taken a physical and mental toll on some of the youngsters he coaches and is looking forward to them, with the help of people having a vaccine when offered, thriving once more.

“When I first discovered the boxing club, it changed my life in this country with the way it improved my English, helped me make lots of friends and gave me enjoyment.

“Now I am helping others attend who maybe wouldn’t have because I can talk to them in Arabic and act as a translator, as well as coach their boxing. Others are improving themselves and do better in school.

“It’s a shame that we haven’t been able to do this for the periods of lockdown over the last few months and we can’t wait to get back to it. To do that, we need everyone’s help, by getting vaccinated whenever they can.”

Covid-19 vaccine Q&A

England Boxing’s Facebook Page will be hosting a live Covid-19 vaccine Q&A on Thursday 1st April at 7pm.

It will see Heart of Portsmouth and England Boxing Talent Coach Q Shillingford ask the NHS’ Professor Anton Emmanuel a series of YOUR questions about the vaccine.

If you have any worries or concerns and want to ask a question via Q, this is your opportunity. Please email questions to matt.halfpenny@englandboxing.org

To check out the Q&A, use this link: www.facebook.com/EnglandBoxing/live/ or go to the England Boxing home page at the specified time and date.