“I’m a lot older than most here but I love being the mum figure”
Visitors to Street Soccer’s Change Centre in Dundee will have came across Izzy at some point on their travels. Described by staff as a ‘diamond’, the volunteer has certainly experienced some rough times.
“It’s just fantastic that I’m here. One year ago, I was waiting on a major operation for my lungs as it kept collapsing. Just at the beginning of the year, it collapsed again. I was in the hospital for two or three weeks but I was determined to get out and get going again. I ended up doing the Kiltwalk with an oxygen tank, once I was out!”
That sort of determination would not surprise those who share the building with Izzy across the week. She highlights how finding about Street Soccer sessions has changed her life.
“I was a regular at the Library centre and I was recommended to walking football by the vicar, who came in. I thought ‘that sounds good’, so I gave it a go and haven’t looked back since.
It was just before COVID, I started. So, we had just got in to the walking football before sport was stopped and then I took the opportunity to join in when we could. First with the outdoor Women’s Wellbeing class and then helping out with the gardening, that’s when Davie asked if I wanted to volunteer. Being part of Street Soccer has given me the opportunity to try and overcome my physical and mental health issues. I’ve made so many friends, I can mix with others and its brought a whole load of positivity in to my life”
Izzy notes that prior to being part of the team at the Change Centre, her anxiety would not allow her to deal with big crowds and that she’s overcome that fear with some support from her new friends.
“Street Soccer has helped me overcome that by building up trust and a good connection with everyone around me. Everyone is so supportive and let me do things at my own pace. I really feel part of the team here.
At the Nations Cup, I was given the chance to do the draw for the fixtures and that was big for me, standing up in front of hundreds of people. The experience at the Nations Cup was unbelievable. So many nice people coming up to me and the sense of encouragement is something I’ll never forget.”
Despite never being the biggest football fanatic, Izzy is certain that football is now deeply engrained in her life, with both her children and grandchildren involved with the Change Centre in some capacity.
“I think the Change Centre, my kids and grandkids are what is keeping me going. My youngest son has actually been volunteering with the youth groups and my grandkids are involved in sessions too. It feels amazing. We are all helping the community and sharing this all together.
Football has never really been a focus of mine. I was curious about what it would be like at first and I enjoyed it – now look at me. It’s now a massive part of my life and I think that shows how powerful sport can be.
With activities across the week, Izzy is busier than ever and is proud to be part of something so crucial to the local community – seeing as she only lives down the street.
“For those who have never tried taking part, I’d urge them to have a wee visit to the Change Centre. The support is outstanding, it’s always a good atmosphere. You can get one-to-one support, you can join in to our group sessions. We just chill out, have a cuppa and generally, just have a good time.
The sense of purpose you get from being part of these groups is massive. The connections you build and friendships you make is what has made the difference for me. I’ve made so many amazing friends here. All the staff are amazing. I couldn’t asked for a better experience.”
Find out more about the Change Centre and how you can get involved, here.