3 Jan 2014 | Football

The positive powers of football vs. the darker side within

Football can help disadvantaged young people in the UK (and beyond) but it can also prove to be a let-down to those it tantalises.


Today’s timely press release from The Prince’s Trust spread the word about how so many young people are feeling depressed, without purpose and suicidal.

It explains that poor job opportunities coupled with the lack of support for vulnerable young people is creating a generation of disaffected people who are losing belief in themselves and society.


Known as NEET (not in employment, education or training), these young people are being abandoned by government and councils because the cut-backs have at best reduced but more often-than-not cancelled, counselling and mentoring programmes that offered guidance, advice and an empathetic nudge.

Follow this link for the BBC’s report

and here for the Prince’s trust pragmatic and positive approach

I make no apologies for lifting the quotes below directly from the BBC. If I hadn’t have done it they would have slipped into ether- oblivion. They make the point much better than I or any other observer could do. Please read them and hold the third one in mind, we’ll come back to it later…



In my experience this article is correct. At the height of the recession I was unemployed for two years and I became highly depressed and suicidal. More support should be offered through the Job Centre (mental health support included) and Job Centre staff need to trained to not be so judgmental, I got treated like I was nothing until I revealed my qualifications. It makes you feel worthless.




How are we going to solve this problem when we have a government who wants people to work until they are nearly 70 years of age before they can draw a state pension.
The only way is for EARLY retirement so jobs are freed for young people otherwise you will never solve the problem, it will only get worse The old idea was for firms to bring onboard young people who would then take over their job




Its not that young people have nothing to live for, its that they won’t be able to have the dream life they have been, and are continually being sold. Looking after old people is an incredibly rewarding job and there are many jobs in this sector. There are many IT jobs if money is your thing. The problem is that young people want cool jobs and there aren’t enough of those to go around.


Whilst discussing the purpose of this blog with my daughter, I pointed out that I sensed there was a positive connection with football, but couldn’t quite place it.


She informed me that COMIC RELIEF, has been sponsoring the provision of portable football pitches for young people to play football as an aid to improving self-esteem and to having some way of expending physical energy (A healthy mind and a healthy body and all that.)


There are some amazing projects; here are just three, from the COMIC RELIEF website http://www.comicrelief.com/how-we-help:


Street league;

Street League specialises in changing the lives of disadvantaged young people through the power of football. They work with disadvantaged 16-25 year old NEETs, young offenders and those who misuse substances and engage them in structured football and education programmes with a view to getting them into work, mainstream education or training. This grant will help to fund the expansion of Street League’s services into three new regions of the UK. They will target communities in the most deprived districts who are most in need of access to sports engagement and employability training opportunities. Nearly three-quarters of graduates from the Street League Academies go on to make a positive change in their lives by getting a job or going back into education.



The England Footballers Foundation

Young people living in poorer communities often lack motivation, and this can make them more likely to leave school early without having mastered reading, writing and maths. This project will give children aged 14 to 16 a year of football sessions, combined with coaching classes and activities that allow them to grow as people. There will then be six months of work experience. The course will be made even more attractive by having England football players help out in person and mentor the children via social media. This project will provide motivation and drive for the children involved, helping to improve how they do at school and in

life generally.


Bangladesh Football Association

This project is part of the London Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund, which raises awareness of and funds for individuals and groups struggling with poverty across the capital. Grants are awarded to community and voluntary groups who are working in the following areas: training and educating people who have dropped out of mainstream education; getting people into work through apprenticeship or mentor schemes; fighting gangs, knife and gun crime; improving mental and physical health and well-being, and addressing other manifestations of poverty, such as homelessness, pensioner poverty or the working poor. The Dispossessed Fund is tackling extreme poverty in the capital and helping to change the lives of people for the better.


Although football has ways of creating tensions and divisions at its very highest levels, it does have the power to unite and support at its grass-roots.


Football is not however a complete cure for all. If we return to the quote on the BBC website and the third comment that ‘Its not that young people have nothing to live for, it’s that they won’t be able to have the dream life they have been, and are continually being sold.’


I want to pick up on this notion of being sold a dream life and to remind you that football even does this to its own people.


Again from the BBC I have found this very recent story of a young player who had a soccer career throughout his youth that fizzled and faded while he was still young.


As a writer, I’ve probably spent as much of life dreaming as actually doing. To be frank I cannot say how much of the dream was created by me or one I bought into. The dream can be a pleasant alternative to reality. It can also be a dangerous mirage.