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Non-league footballer Jahmal Howlett-Mundle received a round of applause from his team-mates and coaches at Sheppey United after coming out as bisexual earlier this year.
And despite his apprehension ahead of the chat with his colleagues, Jahmal now believes that he is playing some of the best football of his career.
The reaction of the Sheppey United players and staff was a hugely positive one, with the clip going viral on social media and the defender almost being reduced to tears.
The 24-year-old has since been able to focus on his ability on the pitch, but has recalled one incident of alleged homophobic abuse during a league match which he has described as extremely hurtful.
Speaking to The Athletic, Jahmal said of his initial reveal: "The encouragement I received from team-mates and staff got me a lot of attention I didn’t expect.
"I didn’t realise the impact it could have. It’s overwhelming, but the amount of beautiful messages I’ve had and the conversations since, I’m really glad I did it.
"I convinced myself it would be easier to expect a negative reaction rather than a positive one — if I expect something negative then at least it is what I thought it would be.
"Billy Bennett was the first to say something in the huddle and then everyone started clapping. I was close to tears. It was something I wasn’t expecting at all.
"The boys have been great ever since. The main focus is me and my ability.”
While he described the alleged homophobic abuse as "regrettably unsurprising but nevertheless still extremely hurtful", Jahmal knows that visibility is of great importance for young people.
He added: "Abuse will come. Unfortunately, that’s part and parcel of the game. I’m at a stage where I won’t react and it won’t get under my skin if this happens."
Jahmal says that he couldn't enjoy large parts of his life because he wasn't open and honest with himself, his family or team-mates, but adds that everyone's situation is different.
Having said that, he has no doubts over whether he made the right decision to come out, pointing towards the positive reaction from both his team-mates and on social media.
He said: "At times, I am still elated. I didn’t expect to be in the position I am now, which is incredible.
“I was scared for many years about coming out but now I feel in the best place I have been.”
- Premier League
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