Street League is one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing charities in the UK. They specialise in changing the lives of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds through the power of football. They work with young people aged 16 – 24 who are not in employment, education and training (NEET) and have a vision to bring an end of structural youth unemployment in the UK.
Young people are engaged in a structured football and education ‘Academy’ programme, with two hours in the classroom and two hours on the pitch each day. This intensive eight-week programme develops vital employability skills such as communication, teamwork and goal-setting. It also offers nationally-recognised qualifications such as the FA Football Level 1 including First Aid training.
I had the pleasure of visiting the Street League North London Academy to share my experiences of working within the professional game. As a former Deputy Head and teacher I have a passion for working with and developing young people therefore my aim following the visit was to inspire them to have career aspirations and be the best that they can be. It was also great to see how they apply the skills they have learnt in the classroom on the pitch through our ‘kick about’ which I thoroughly enjoyed! I will be working closely with and mentoring some of the graduates on taking their first steps to paid employment and becoming football coaches.
The Academy Progressions Co-ordinator, Cheryl Forde organised my visit. “It was a fantastic session with Manisha! She provided our young people with opportunities to help them progress and offered her support in helping them take their next step. Not only did she leave the participants inspired to push themselves further, but she showed them a thing or two with the ball; scoring an impressive hat-trick!”
One graduate, Anthony Ball said, “Manisha had a positive and can do attitude which rubbed off on myself and the rest of the group, she grabbed our attention with her personal experience and had a great kick about after! She also scored a nice hat-trick!”
Another, Ricardo Chase commented, “I feel inspired and ready to come out of my comfort zones! Manisha doesn’t even have a football background, yet she has been successful. I’m ready for new challenges!”
23 year old Kurtis Bussue is a trained Muay Thai and Kickboxing fighter from Kilburn, and a North London graduate. His story is truly inspiring and shows the significance of Street League to his personal journey.
“I have been training for 1 year, dedicating days and nights applying myself to meet my goals of competing at the highest level. I recently had a fight (14th June) against an opponent weighing 3kg more. This was only my second time stepping into the ring and I had a few nerves because of that and also the injury I had going into the fight, however I used the nerves to out perform my opponent and gain much needed experience. During my training leading up to the fight, other than the support I received from my camp Payak Siam, I also got help from a course ran by a charity called Street League. A charity helping youth to gain qualifications, employment and to help realise personal dreams.
Street League helped me with my fitness (playing football 4 days a week), and also helped me to gain sports related qualifications and other work opportunities I’m pursuing alongside training. They showed genuine interest in my life, my current situation and my goals. I truly believe that they care about the youth and the staff at my local Street League, Adam and Cheryl, are great people who I can trust and want to keep around me, and when I get to the top of the fighting world. Street League and I will keep a good relation reaching new heights together.”
Street League empowers young people. It provides them with a key to unlock potential, and as Kurtis said, allows them to realise and reach their dreams. They really do change lives through football.
I’d like to thank Cheryl Forde for inviting me to the North London Academy and the young people for being so welcoming and friendly. I was left inspired from their positive energy and will most definitely be back to have another kick about with them!