Jose joined Street Soccer London at an uncertain time in his life and after grasping every opportunity over the last two years, he’s loving life in his dream job.
“Before coming to Street Soccer London, I was in a hostel for two years at Camberwell, Centrepoint. I wasn’t working and I wasn’t really doing anything due to the lockdowns. After a while, I luckily got a house in the area and found Street Soccer London. I was extremely grateful to secure a coaching role with SSL, which was massive for me – having no qualifications or experience.
Street Soccer kept me strong and grounded. They helped me pursue my dream career which was to become an electrician, which is going well and I love doing so much. I get to go back to the kids and let them know that they can do anything they wish to be and that alone means the world to me.”
It’s a bittersweet feeling for both Jose and his peers. By securing a new apprenticeship, he isn’t able to spend as much time at sessions, where he is extremely popular with players and staff. Although, despite his life has taken him down a new path, he is certain that football will continue to help him push boundaries.
“Football for me growing up was an escape. My parents weren’t around, so every day after school I wanted to be outside with my friends. You’re never alone in the football world and that’s what is so special. There is always someone who wants you to do well or wants you to flourish. Football has given me a place of safety and a sense of belonging. It’s given me the chance to make a lot of friends and I am who I am today due to my determination and willpower and I developed that thanks to football.”
Despite having little experience in coaching, Jose was given the opportunity to join the team at Street Soccer and hasn’t looked back since. He highlights how this was more than just a job, with strong relationships with the rest of the team developing across time.
“When I first joined the team, I was very nervous, very scared. I had to deal with kids who had maybe been through the same experiences as me, so I didn’t want to let them down. I was very excited but very nervous to start with as everything was very new to me. However, Street Soccer London were very welcoming and I fitted in perfectly.
Being part of Street Soccer London has been a great experience. The staff were always so supportive, always cheering for me. They have given me a great opportunity and made me feel so welcome. They are always saying how proud they are and I really value that, as I don’t always feel acknowledged in that way. I love being part of that team and we are all together in helping creating change.”
Jose admits that before joining Street Soccer, he struggled with confidence and would have described himself as a ‘quiet guy’. Fast forward two years and the same description does not apply.
“I knew I had to come out my shell when I got this opportunity. I got to a stage where I knew I had to open up. I had a great opportunity and I had no excuse. I needed to be someone these kids looked up. They needed someone to speak to. It was hard to build that trust with them and to be their coach, but I was determined.
Every session was my favourite for me but a highlight had to be when we visited Crystal Palace with the U16s to participate in a tournament. To be able to have the chance to lead a team there was big for me – I felt like a real coach! Our team done really well and won their tournament, so it was great to see all the kids so happy, some of them had never won a medal before. The fact I got to give some of them a nice experience was amazing.”
Jose is excited about what the future holds, with a career as an electrician lined up and a football family behind him for support, he’s in a good place. He believes that by helping young players with positive choices, more dreams can be achieved.
“I am missing being at Street Soccer but I know the kids are in great hands. Jack, Laura and Yasin are amazing with them and are so supportive. I’ll miss seeing the kids grow and seeing their smiles on the pitch.
Street Soccer has given me a dream, which has changed my world. By focusing on the small things and building up confidence, they’ve let me believe that I can change the world and I know that they are having a great impact with everyone else too.”
If you are interested in supporting Street Soccer London, please contact Laura Foster on firstname.lastname@example.org.