Street Soccer’s session in Motherwell has been up and running since January with new members of the team arriving every other week. Most of the players have only known one another for the best part of four months, however you would not think that after watching their weekly session at Fir Park.
One of the most vibrant players at the session is Brian. Rarely seen without a cheesy grin on his face, the Lanarkshire native is one of the eldest players of the group but is easily one of the most passionate about his football.
Donned in his favourite Chelsea colours, Brian tells us that coming to Street Soccer sessions has had a massive impact on him throughout the beginning of 2022.
“I am a happy man now. I come here happy, I wake up happy. This has really improved my mental health and self-esteem.”
Brian first heard of Street Soccer through our network partners at North Lanarkshire Recovery Community and hasn’t looked back since.
“I was keen from the minute I heard. I started to go to community cafes a little while back and it all seemed to fall in to place. I am a big football fan, it’s something I’ve always been really passionate about. It’s not just the game though, it’s the social aspect. I like meeting other likeminded people, you can come here and be yourself and enjoy it.”
He explains his need for a crutch on his right hand due to a spinal injury, however, after watching him play for an hour, it definitely does not impact his desire nor his ability to get on the ball throughout the session.
“I have had two spinal surgeries. I have had my lumber spine removed. For me to be on the park is impressive, so to actually being part of the sessions gives me a great sense of pride. I don’t have any feeling on my left leg from my knee to my toe, so my crutch gives me balance. If I fall? That’s not a big deal, I like getting stuck in.
First week that I came down with the stick, everyone was a bit wary of me but I don’t want them to stay away! Give me a kick! I want to feel like I’ve been through a proper game of football. ”
We discuss his recovery journey and how football can influence that for the better. Brian highlights how feeling part of a team here in Motherwell has brought a new level of positivity in to his life.
“As soon as I heard I could play, even with my disability, addiction issues and mental health issues – and still be welcomed just like everyone else – you can’t beat that feeling. There’s never any tension here, we’re all in the same place and we need the football. I do feel like I need to keep going as much as I can, I even tried to go to the Stirling session a few Fridays too!”
It had been a decade since Brian last had a ball at his feet, and despite this presenting a challenge to begin with, he believes that the tight-knit group surrounding him at the session has made things a lot easier.
“It took a while to get up to speed but its honestly been fantastic. When I look at my team-mates here, look at young Aiden. Despite his cerbal palsy, he’s getting right in amongst it. Look at how much he enjoys himself, that motivates me. He’s an inspiration.
We have such a diverse group but I love that. I’m playing football with new people and we have all clicked right away. It’s a good set of people who all have the same beliefs. By meeting likeminded people here, it gives me greater perspective and allows me to look ahead on my recovery journey.”
With the player pathway explained to all Street Soccer players upon entry, the aim for players at these sessions is to create hope, build belief and look to the future. Brian is no different in that respect.
“My aims for the future would be to get back and doing my coaching badges, that would be different class. As long as I’m involved with football, I’d be delighted.
There is always the chance that I could follow some of these guys here, John and Patty have been putting on some great sessions. I have so much respect for Stuart, for what he’s achieved professionally but also what he delivers for us here.”
Throughout our discussion, Brian makes no secret that he would play with Street Soccer every day if he could – apart from a Sunday, where he has his feet up watching the Chelsea games – and he is glowing when reflecting on his short Street Soccer journey thus far.
“I feel at home here. I know that I have got people here that I can bounce off. If I was struggling, I know that I could pop a message in the Whatsapp chat and I’d have numerous people willing to give me a call and lend an ear. That’s just tremendous. That’s different and why Street Soccer is special.
When you’re an addict, its what people can take from you and abuse you, but now that’s different. I’ve got my recovery family and I’m delighted with my routine of having this every Monday, starting my week right.”
Brian is one of many players benefitting from our growing network programme, you can learn more about where we are and what we do here. Our weekly session in Motherwell takes place behind Fir Park on the community Astro pitch, every Monday from 1:30-3:00pm. It is free of cost and absolutely anyone can join in.