IMAGINE being forced to flee your home then travel thousands of miles in search of safety.

The two dozen players at refugee football club Swindon United don’t need to imagine.

Set up by Broadgreen-based Harbour Project, the squad brings together players aged 18 to 45 – training every weekend at St Joseph’s Catholic College.

It was formed after volunteers at the Swindon refugee charity realised that it could be a useful outlet for football-mad young men who were prevented by government rules from working while their asylum claims were being considered.

Swindon is one of four “dispersal” towns in the south west, with refugees housed in the town while their asylum claims are processed. While they are here, the refugees have just £5 a day on which to live.

Rob Yates, one of the Harbour Project volunteers behind the team and a Swindon City of Sanctuary committee member, said: “I think the team is a bit of escapism for people who have had a tough time.”

Professional Albano Abrantes has been coaching the Swindon team for the last two months.

The 37-year-old, who until recently coached youth teams at Barcelona Football Club’s Florida football school, volunteers with the squad while he trains to get the FA license that will allow him to coach teams around the world.

“They are good – they can be very good,” said the coach of ten years. “I’m trying to bring them all together as a group.”

Earlier this summer, 18-year-old Yousif Mahmoud was taken on by Oxford City Football Club on their college course.

Yousif fled from the war-torn Darfur region of the Sudan when he was just 15 – travelling through Libya and across the Mediterranean before reaching the UK in 2015.

The youngster left behind his family in the conflict-riven country, where the UN estimates that 4.8 million people are in need of humanitarian help.

The teen has always been a football fan – with dreams of playing for his favourites, Manchester United.

“I have supported them all my life. It’s my dream to play football.

“I lost my childhood. But if I had been born here I could have been at a massive club.”

Yousif’s former teammates at Swindon United could also have the spark that could find them stardom on the football field, coach Albano said.

Scouts from Leeds United and recent premier league winners Leicester City have already visited the club.

Also dreaming of stardom is Abdulla Musa, a 20-year-old whose parents and siblings were killed in the conflict that has engulfed Sudan.

He has lived in the UK for eight months – playing for Swindon United for five of them.

“Through football we can send a message to people to come together regardless of the difference.”