- A number of 18-30-year-olds took part in a football and esports tournament in the first Commonwealth-widely recognised Football For Good Day
- Taking place at London Stadium, Leicester City in the Community’s Street Soccer Academy took on nine other academies representing their club
- Leicester City’s charity works with people from YMCA Leicestershire to access the course and provide exit routes to volunteering for those who take part
- Participants from Leicester City in the Community’s Street Soccer Academy got the chance to play at London Stadium in the Football For Good Trophy
The five-a-side tournament was held on Sunday 19 November, to mark the inaugural Football For Good Day – a Commonwealth-wide celebration of the sport’s ability to change lives for the better.
The players, 18-30-year-olds who were homeless or at risk of homelessness by not being in education, employment or training, represented the professional football club community organisation where they recently completed a Street Soccer Academy course.
Devised by Street Soccer Foundation, the 10-week long personal development course uses football as a catalyst to engage participants in positive mindset training, mentoring support, football coaching and employability workshops.
Sean Syrett, Community Engagement Coach at Leicester City in the Community, commented on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“The Street Soccer Academy has helped our participants in a way I personally could never imagine,” he stated. “Seeing the participants only want to focus on playing football to watching them grow and become more self-determined, motivated and confident with anything they want to do.
The players at the five-a-side tournament were people from the Leicestershire area who were homeless or at risk of being homeless.
“The tournament at London Stadium has been a significant part of the growth for the participants, as they have been engaged with all the sessions learning how to improve their wellbeing and mindset.
“This helped them gain a significant amount of confidence knowing that they would get the opportunity to play at an amazing venue, which for some is an opportunity of a lifetime.”
Leicester City in the Community works with people from YMCA Leicestershire to access the Street Soccer Academy course and helps provide exit routes to volunteering for those who take part.
Megan, one Leicester City in the Community participant, added: “I’ve had many bad things happen this year, such as becoming homeless and I have lost my best friend and these things really set me back.
I’m going out a lot more and becoming more confident within myself.Megan Street Soccer Academy participant
“When I heard about the Street Soccer Academy and joined, I was hardly going out and not really talking to people, but now I have more motivation, I’m going out a lot more and becoming more confident within myself.”
Alongside the football tournament, GAME hosted one of the very first EA Sports FC 24 gaming tournaments, in partnership with Microsoft, in an Xbox arena set up for participants inside the London Stadium.
The final was won by Leicester City in the Community participant Danny – who won a brand-new Xbox and a winner’s trophy.
Keith Mabbutt, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Street Soccer Foundation, said: “This very first Football For Good Day has achieved precisely what we set out to showcase; it has been a day where we have seen young people gather from literally all over the world, interacting together and encouraging everyone else and championing each other’s endeavours.
“Some of those playing have been through very difficult situations in their lives, but they’ve kept coming back week after week to their academy and showed that desire to complete the course.
The programme aims to inspire confidence and a healthy sense of wellbeing.
“I’m proud and grateful that we’ve been able to provide them the opportunity to play at the iconic London Stadium on Football For Good Day as a reward for their fantastic endeavours.”
The Football For Good initiative is the brainchild of Keith Mabbutt and was launched by the Street Soccer Foundation earlier this year in support of the Commonwealth’s 2023 Year of Youth, which is celebrating 50 years of the Commonwealth Youth Programme.
The event was live streamed to a global audience online and the coverage featured films from similar football events celebrating the sport’s positive impact in some of the other 56 Commonwealth member countries.
Street Soccer Academies from club community organisations representing Brentford, Chelsea, Everton, Hull City, Liverpool, Salford City, Sheffield United, Sunderland and West Ham United joined Leicester City in taking part in the Football For Good Trophy.
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