The game of football remains the world’s most followed sport. There can be few other sports which ignite such passion in supporters and attract such a diverse range of fans. From the wealthy to the poor, both fans and players of football come from a wide variety of backgrounds. However, it is often the case that the disadvantaged find it difficult to get involved in the game, due to the pressures they face in their lives. Now, one charity has decided to change that.
Street League was originally founded in the UK in 2001 as a charitable organisation working with the homeless. Today, Street League works with young people between the ages of 16 and 25 who are classified as NEET (not in education, employment or training). Youth unemployment has been a worrying issue for many years and remains a major problem with over one million young people out of work and facing a bleak future.
The Street League programme aims to bring some fulfilment to the lives of disadvantaged youngsters through the game of football, while at the same time offering classroom-based training to increase both personal confidence and future prospects. Of course, football is a team game so one of the major advantages of Street League is the participants learn how to be part of a team and, in turn, boost their people interaction skills. The classroom sessions involve CV writing lessons and even mock interviews so that the youngsters can brush up on their job interview techniques. As Street League is sports-based, participants on the programme also get the chance to study for recognised sporting qualifications.
Formerly the CEO of The Dow Chemical Company in Michigan, USA, the Chairman of Street League, Mike Parker, is as passionate about helping the disadvantaged as everyone else involved with the organisation. It is this passion which has seen Street League expand to 12 cities across the country with approximately 81% of graduates from the programme going on to find either employment or placements in education and training.
With the cost to the country of youth unemployment standing at a colossal three billion pounds every year, it is obvious that much needs to be done to eradicate the problem. Research has proved that the majority of youths who experience long periods of unemployment will become unemployed again in the future.
By providing hope to scores of young people and preparing them for the future, not to mention giving them the opportunity to make new friends, Street League has harnessed the power of football to help change lives for the better.