Albion in the Community Scoring for the Future
Lucindha Lawson is a deaf futsal player and an ambassador for the FA's Asian Inclusion programme. Before lockdown she visited Brighton & Hove Albion to check out their 'Albion Goals' scheme which is part of the Premier League's work in the community.
It's a programme which combines free weekly football with workshops aimed at promoting personal development and improving job prospects.
It is aimed at people over the age of 16 who may come from difficult backgrounds and aren’t in employment to teach them relevant skills.
There are a range of activities as well as a range of courses that help people determine which sort of career path they might go down.
We also caught up with Albion in the Community (AITC) Inclusion Manager, Martin Schooley, to find out more about the project: “We got the funding for Albion Goals about ten years ago as a way of helping people stuck in temporary accommodation and used football as a means for motivation to help them make better of their lives.
“We realised about a year ago that playing football for football’s sake wasn’t enough. It was helping people and it was a positive thing, but we then just decided it needed to be a bit more systematic and measurable.”
So how does combining sport and life skills work? After seeing the good work done in Brighton already AITC wanted to add to this: “There are many transferable life skills you can learn through football, so we’ve realised the growth mind set especially used in professional sport and the resilience that that takes for people to achieve what they want to.
“With that in mind we decided to design a new programme that at the moment is generally working for people in recovery.
“Part of the reason for this is, is we realised that the recovery programme that Brighton’s got, which is really good and probably one of the best in the country, doesn’t have a sport element to it.”
They now run several different courses as part of the project, one of them being ‘Scoring for the Future’ which has been a huge success: “Funded by the FIFA Foundation we run a ‘Scoring for the Future’ course which is an 18-week programme and the idea is that people are ready for employment and have a sense of what skills they’ve got.
“It stops them going through this circle of not doing jobs they particularly don’t like and gets them in stable position where they are doing something they want to do and prevent them going back to using and things like that.”
Like everything though, they have faced their challenges. Something Martin believes they’ve managed well and are still overcoming: “The challenges we face is getting the right balance between fun and learning. We don’t want it tipping into too much fun or tipping into too much structure, but I think we have it just about right now.
“We’re dealing with some very vulnerable adults so one thing we’ve done is provide mini-bus services so they can come from their rehab houses play some football and go back again.
“People who don’t work in sport, don’t necessarily see what we see. That football can teach you so many life skills and use these skills to get you in a better place going forward.
“It’s a combination of doing something different and not necessarily feeling like they’re working. They’re in recovery but we’ve approached it from a different angle.”
The unique aspect of what AITC are doing is the motivation for a lot of the vulnerable people that they are helping and giving them the confidence, they didn’t perhaps realise they had: “A lot of the skills we’re going through, they’ve already got but we’re helping them realise it.
“It might be a single mum that doesn’t realise she’s very good at organising or budget management or motivating her children and we’re helping bring out these moments of realising you have these skills.
“Most importantly though it’s the social element. It’s getting out there living in the moment and doing a healthy hobby. It doesn’t matter if you can’t kick a ball, what matters is what you’ve gained from this experience and realising that sport is good for you.”
Lastly, Martin added: “We want to ensure that the quality is good for the people we deliver to. We feel we’ve got a very good product that we can replicate anywhere and with a variety of people.”
For more information please contact Albion in the Community:
Albion in the Community
T: 01273 878265