Football changes lives

17 February 2015

Written by: Lee Dema, St Matthew's Project

Arts, culture and events - Children and young people - Focus on Brixton

For more than ten years, the St Matthew’s Project has offered free football coaching to young people in the South Brixton area. It’s much more than just a football club bringing benefits beyond the football pitch. Lee Dema explains more about what they do.

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Football changes lives

We regularly see 150 young people a week at our football and sports sessions aimed at young people from across Tulse Hill and Brixton. We’ve also introduced new sports, such as tennis, table tennis and boxing, to people who want to give them a go, as well as arranging trips, encouraging volunteering and an education and training programme for members over 16 years of age.

We currently have five football league teams playing their home fixtures at Brockwell Park and all eyes will be on the Under 16s as they play the semi-finals of the London Cup on Saturday 21 March on home turf. We wish them luck!

The girls only club meets on Saturdays at Ferndale Community Centre and are making a name for themselves regionally. This picture was taken at the Street Games ‘London Fives’ tournament at the Westway Centre, Ladbroke Grove in June last year. The St Matthew’s Project team were cup holders and we played close rivals Clapham Park, in the final.

St Matthew's Project girls team in actionIn the photo, goalkeeper, Damaris had just saved the penalty that won us the tournament and a second trip to St. George’s Park for the national finals.

She is leaping into Megan’s arms with Aramide running up to join them. Megan and Aramide are now coaches at our girls-only scheme and came through the scheme as participants.

Making sure activities stay free is vital if we want to keep this project open to everyone. If you play for a team there’s a signing on fee and £3 subs per match, but that’s it. Keeping things free means we need affordable facilities and sometimes that’s a struggle. We also have a recycled football boots scheme with Fulham FC, which makes a real difference to many of the young people here.

People who come to us say the project gives them confidence as well as new team mates and, if they need it, there’s one-to-one support from the coaching staff. Of course, it also keeps them fitter, which we hope will become a way of life.

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