25°C in Glasgow City Centre. Perfect conditions for a kickabout? So, Laura thinks anyway.
Laura is a Street Soccer volunteer who has been attending the Street 45 Womens sessions for four years – and she says it saved her life.
“Previous to my time here, I was in and out of hospital all the time. I’d had a lot of trouble in my childhood, trusting men and other issues. My support worker at the time kept taking me to the local park to play football, it really felt like it was a good way of getting my childhood back. I then got referred to Street Soccer, which I hated at first. It was difficult for me to adjust to something new, trusting new people – but in the end, I think it’s saved my life.”
Street 45 sessions are growing in popularity, with new and existing players attending across the week at Powerleague Glasgow. Laura has seen the programme develop across her time as a player and believes her progression to volunteer has allowed her to give back to the group, whilst also benefitting her own recovery.
“I started in the drop in women’s sessions, and I’ve moved on to volunteering in the last two years, which has been amazing. It’s given me structure, routine and generally something to get up in the morning for. It gives me purpose.
Street Soccer has helped me become happy again. I’m now more of myself and its brought me a lot of friends. In the past, I would punish myself and I was scared to put myself out there, however joining Street Soccer has allowed me to learn that I am allowed to be happy.”
Street Soccer ensures that players are always put first. That’s why Street 45 sessions are tailored to the wants and needs of participants, where football is not always the main attraction. Street 45 Programme Coordinator Sarah Rhind emphasises that there is something for everyone within the weekly sessions.
“The sessions are tailored to what they need – even if they want to come in for a chat. We’re fully flexible to that, that’s why we exist. A lot of the girls are keen to do more volunteering and getting involved in other things but there isn’t just one sort of way that we push them. It’s totally person centred, so if it’s not for them we will never push them in to that. We find new ways all the time of engaging our players.
We make sure the players are aware of all the support systems we have. We are always checking in to make sure they are moving in the right direction and as mentioned previously, we are on hand to help with anything they might struggle with. I’d like to think any of our players could come to me and discuss any of this.”
A clear player pathway has allowed a number of Street Soccer players to grow and develop their skills and confidence, affording more opportunities within and outside the organisation. Laura has had her eyes set on more volunteering opportunities since coronavirus restrictions have started to ease in Scotland and hopes more players can join her.
“I’m looking forward to continue volunteering, I especially love going in to the prisons to work with the women in there as it’s very rewarding. I hope more of the players we have just now can do the same. We have a really tight knit and welcoming group that makes our sessions really special. There’s a variety of stuff to do and the ethos is purely to have fun.
What I would say to anyone still not sure about Street Soccer is just give it a chance because it may genuinely be their chance to change their life.”
There are no prerequisites to join our Street 45 sessions, it is completely open to any female, regardless of age. You can find out more about our sessions by contacting Sarah at [email protected].