Street Soccer London players had a memorable experience at Crystal Palace’s Academy Training Ground this past weekend, taking part in Palace for Life’s PL Kicks tournament.
Palace for Life, the clubs community arm, kindly invited Street Soccer along on Saturday as part of the Premier League’s youth initiative. Players were in awe of the brand new facilities which opened earlier this year and with category A status is one of the best in the UK.
Street Soccer entered three teams in to the tournament and won top prize in both the under 16 and under 18 age group. Programme coordinator, Jack Badu, said that the experience was important for the players.
“We had players along from both our FAST and Black Prince Trust sessions and it was a really great way to end the year for them. It’s one of the best places I have ever been too and the boys had a good time engaging with both Palace for Life and the Met Police Taskforce both on and off the pitch.”
There was memorable success for the coaches too as new sessional worker Jose, at his first event with Street Soccer, won the under 16 trophy with one of the squads.
We thank Palace for Life for their invite as we look forward to working together in the community again soon.
Street Soccer London’s commitment to female football has never been stronger and one of Team England’s Four Nations Cup champions has highlighted that the ‘family feel’ among players is bound to bring more success for newer female participants.
Sanchia, 26, is from London and has been involved with football from a young age. Having found Street Soccer earlier this year, Sanchia was involved in the Four Nations Cup in Edinburgh after being referred through another sports programme at the Black Prince Trust.
After lifting the trophy in the Scottish capital, Sanchia explains that she was the only girl in her age group to play football at primary school, joining in with the boys in order to play competitively. During her younger years, she played for Millwall, Fulham and Chelsea Soccer School, however fell away from the game in her teenage years due to a lack of security in her social circles. Having experienced homelessness and recovering from substance abuse, Sanchia highlights how rediscovering her love for football has quickly created new habits.
“It’s amazing how quickly my mindset has changed; I am now focusing on fuelling my body correctly with nutrients and thinking more positively each morning.”
Finding new connections through football has meant that she has discovered trust in her new friends, attributing this to a stronger sense of recovery.
“With the people I used to spend time with, meant it was very easy to fall back in to old habits and go down a dark path. Being part of Street Soccer brings a real sense of unity and ensures you don’t feel alone – most of us have had similar struggles and that helps build a real connection.”
After a break of almost 12 years playing football, the Four Nations tournament was a perfect opportunity for Sanchia to express herself and benefit from the beautiful game. All four nations came together across the weekend to create new friendships and Sanchia highlighted the pure joy from her team-mates and opponents really hit home.
“I took so much from that weekend. Even the teams that weren’t wining on the park, you wouldn’t know because they were on top of the world. It’s a weekend I’ll never forget and I’ve met some absolutely amazing people who I can stay in touch with and learn from.”
With a new women’s only session recently launched in Hounslow, Sanchia urged those who are keen to know more about the programme to take their chance.
“Even though I was quite active growing up, there’s a point where your life slows down and you need more excitement.
Regardless of that, I was introduced to mentally engaging and physically active sports. Not only did it shut down insecurities but opened up passions I didn’t know I had.
Being part of this larger group helped turn my anxiety into courage due to the strength of the people that had surrounded me. It’s a hard thing to find but when you spend the time exploring, you find what is best suited for you and I think the support from Street Soccer makes it all worthwhile.”
Our Street 45 programme is structured to appeal to female players using ‘football themed’ exercise and aerobic sessions.
Sessions are broken down into two halves – 45 minutes of fitness, followed by 45 minutes of personal development.
Our female staff offer peer support and mentoring, and we also offer players the opportunity to take part in first aid, sports coaching and CV workshops. All sessions are open to anyone 18+ and no experience or fitness require. The programme is fun and inclusive, and it’s not just limited to football either!
Taking place every Wednesday from 1 to 2:30pm, sessions will be delivered at Heston Pools & Fitness by our new programme coordinator Sophia.