Changing lives through football with Kent’s Street Soccer programme
Gillingham Football Club Community Trust has joined forces with the Street Soccer Foundation to help young people experiencing homelessness in Kent.
The 12-week personal development programme has been running in the county since September 2016, with the aim to support disadvantaged young people by helping them to achieve positive social change in their lives. Sponsored by Kent firm FM Conway, the programme incorporates football coaching, education, and pathway progression, developing core life and employability skills on the pitch and in the classroom.
The young participants develop commitment, teamwork and discipline through the football skills and drills with Gillingham FC Community Trust coaches. They then get a chance to practice mock interviews and employability techniques in the classroom, building their knowledge and skills to grow their confidence and optimism for the future, to ultimately help them to realise their true potential.
“We are absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to partner with the Street Soccer Foundation to develop this project in Medway and Kent. Having seen the positive work Street Soccer has completed elsewhere we really wanted to be a part of the project, and as Gillingham is the sole professional club in Kent, it is important that the Community Trust shows its support to such a great cause.” [Adam Lawrence, CEO of Gillingham FC Community Trust]
The programme is only at the half-way point, but the impact is already apparent. Regular participants show their commitment, travelling independently from across Kent to join in at Star Meadow Sports and Social Club in Gillingham. There’s clear progress being made on and off the pitch too, with one participant, 22 year old Kieran Lee, having secured full-time employment following his participation in the sessions. Kent girl Jodie Coombes, who took part in the inaugural Street Soccer programme with West Ham United earlier this year and went on to represent England Ladies in this year’s Homeless World Cup in Glasgow, has also been coming back to support and inspire participants, and there’s hope that some of this cohort might follow in her footsteps to represent England in Oslo next year too.
Keith Mabbutt, Founder of the Street Soccer Foundation said: “The Street Soccer Foundation is primarily about instilling confidence and desire in disadvantaged young people to have them want to make a change for the better. Using the power of football, our programme educates, inspires and motivates individuals to improve their lives and their environment. Having been born and raised in Kent, I am particularly delighted to see the launch of the Gillingham FC Street Soccer programme supporting young people in the county, to achieve their goals both on and off the pitch.”
You can find out more about the Street Soccer Foundation here.