In partnership with Djibril Ayofe and Chelsea FC Foundation, Big Leaf Foundation ran a three day football project called ISpeak Football in the October half-term.
Football is an essential part of Big Leaf’s provision. For the young people we work with, football is a chance to play, exercise, develop their skills and make new friends. It represents a common language with mutual understanding and respect between players. We have experienced the hugely positive effect that football can have on the well-being of our beneficiaries.
This October, in collaboration with Chelsea FC Foundation and Djibril Ayofe - one of the creators of the ISpeak Football programme - we ran a three-day programme focused on developing English language and football skills. The days began in the classroom, with participants learning football terminologies and phrases to use on the pitch before training sessions and matches.
'I heard about the English and Football project from Ben. The reason I decided to attend the event was because it was half-term, to develop my English and also to meet people from other places.'
As I expected it, it was [a] really good time. It was a positive time I had there. When I went the first day we learned about a lot of vocabularies we use in English, so it was a very interesting session. I would like to participate again in the future.'
We developed this project in response to research showing that mainstream education can often be inaccessible to young people whose first language is not English and who suffer from depression or trauma. As we all know, it is much easier to learn something when we are engaged with the subject matter, and the combination of language lessons and football sessions proved to be very effective.
'It was so nice, I liked it and I love football so much. I wish the week never ended' S - participant.
A & S attended the sessions from the first day and had a slightly higher language level than others. They had both previously been attending our weekly football sessions. Still, we were able to learn during the course that A is interested in pursuing a career in football, which allowed us to start focusing on progression routes for him, including undertaking the FA Playmaker Certificate with the assistance of one of our volunteers who has completed the course. S also benefited as he seemed more proactive in attending football sessions and taking the lead in bringing more participants to play. Due to his obvious talent, we have now managed to refer him to the Redhill Under 18s team, where fellow ISpeak participants A and I are currently playing. He now feels more settled and included within his local community.
We had a fantastic time and hope to run another project in the Easter holidays. If you know a young person who might want to attend, please get in touch with Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org