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Gwent Central League reinstates Wales' only prison football team

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media captionHow football can be "your first way to show you are rehabilitated"

Wales' only prison football team has won an appeal to be reinstated in a local league.

HMP Prescoed FC had been refused entry to the Gwent Central League after two decades in the division.

Concerns were raised about young opponents being able to enter the grounds during matches, which must all now be played at the jail.

But league officials reconsidered the side's request, and have now agreed the open prison side can take part.

The team will have to forfeit its away game points as part of the agreement to rejoin Gwent Central Division 2 in the upcoming season.

'Focus on return to action'

A liaison officer will also be allocated to team visiting the prison to overcome any potential safeguarding concerns for opposing players.

"The League can confirm its members have voted with an overall majority to accept the decision," said Gwent league officials in a statement.

"We hope this concludes the matter and all sides can now focus on a return to action when government (Covid) regulations allow."

All games in the league competition are currently suspended due to coronavirus restrictions.

The initial decision to ban the club led to a 300 name petition in support of the inmates.

Chris Leslie, who played for the prison side for a season, said the team was a way back to society for some prisoners.

image captionFormer prison player Chris Leslie spoke out about the original ban

"It's something to look forward to on the weekend," he said.

"It's your first way to show you are rehabilitated. The prison officers are looking at how you interact with other people."

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