Beginning November 1st, I started a 7 week pilot for the project formerly known as ‘Just Another Football Club‘.
It took me a while to decide where I wanted to run the pilot – more importantly, which area lacked sport and community based opportunities for young women (between the ages of 13-17). I met with football folk in Hackney, Camden, Islington and Haringay. After meeting
Pete Blackwell, the London Manager for ‘Reachout!’ a mentoring charity, I was sold on Hackney.
Pete agreed to partner with me and provide pitch space at Petchey Academy where he runs Reachout FC.
Now that the 7 weeks have ended, I’m stoked to say that it has been a success.
– 21 different players on the register, 10 who consistently come (3 or more weeks)
– 7 text messages, all from different players that read:
“You’ve been sent this message by 07xxxxxxxxx asking you to call them back as they are out of credit. (Normal charges apply)”
– 4 players who have been there every single week. Amazing dedication.
– 3 brand new shiny players who have never kicked a ball in their life
– 2 weeks of standing outside Petchey when school got let out with flyers, spamming random school kids with leaflets about the session (note: this was on the advice of the school’s groundsman told me to stand outside at 330pm and hand out some info. He said this will be a surefire way to boost numbers. So this is what I did. I stuffed flyers into the hands of school kids with with my email and phone number. Aside from me feeling like a stereotypical overly-enthusiastic North American, it was good. Numbers doubled after doing so. Result.)
– 0 footballs/equipment of any sort lost (I’m pointing this out because it’s normally very rare)
One thing that really surprised me was despite some brutal weather, players would still rock up. As a footballer myself, I know all too well how demotivating it can be playing in the cold, wet British winter.
I could ramble on forever about all of the great stuff that has gone on in the pilot but I’ll stop here and save that for a later post.
Here’s what’s next:
– I’ll be continuing with the session, Tuesday nights at Petchey (working towards a friendly 7-aside match against a nice, beginner to intermediate level side)
– There’s a website on the way alongside the branding, partners and all that jazz
– The membership scheme will be finalised so you and anyone you know can become part-owner of this club for the tiny fee of £10 per year. What a bargain.
– I’m making a rota of footballers (male and female) come out and help with sessions.
– Getting a few of the older girls (16 year olds) on a coaching Level 1 course.
Trying to get something off the ground is hardwork. Really. And without certain peoples’ support this would likely still be something I’d only dream about doing. So here is my first honour role of lovely people – and there will be plenty more to be added to this. It’s only the beginning.
– Naresh Ramchandani, who aside from having top notch football banter, basically convinced me to quit working for him to pursue this. Oh and did I mention he has re-named and branded it?
– @nataliedoyle82 from the London FA for spreading the word
– Pete Blackwell and the crew at Reachout for being crazy helpful and encouraging.
– Orlando from Actis, my newly found mentor. He didn’t bat an eye lid when I pounced on him at a mentoring matchmaking night put on by Unltd.
– Keisha Graham Benjamin (her initials are KGB – funny, right?) for rallying together all the teenaged girls she knows in Hackney. Including multiple members of her family. And a few circus performers.
If you or anyone you know would like to get involved, please do get in touch!
Ps- I gave Glove Love to the team as a Christmas present. It was very well received.
PPs- Apologies for the pictures quality. They were taken on a borrowed Blackberry in the rain.