Tasha has been playing with Street Soccer as part of our Street45 programme for five years and says it is the best thing she’s ever done.
After being released from prison in 2017, Tasha went to a service called Link Up and started to attend drop-in sessions with both males and females, who were also experiencing drug and alcohol abuse.
“I started to play football again when I was in prison, and once I was released I was playing football with some of the guys in the service at the pitches at Glasgow Caledonian University. Sarah came to visit one of the sessions and let me know about Street Soccer, I gave it a go and I’ve never looked back.”
Tasha opens up about her troubling behaviour growing up and notes that going to prison might have saved her.
“From a young age, I have always felt like I didn’t fit in. I always felt different and that led me to get involved with the wrong people. I started drinking and taking drugs from the age of 11. I was in gang fights and violence. I was shop lifting from the age of 12. I was kicked out of school from 12 years old and really struggled as I didn’t get an education. I was a very angry child. There was lot of chaos in my life with criminal justice and social work involved at many points. I was out of control.”
Upon turning 16, Tasha moved south to Dumfries in order to be closing to her grandmother. Although this was a help at the time, an abusive relationship with the father of her child left her at rock bottom.
“When I was 18, I met my son’s Dad and the relationship was good at the start. As time went on, he started to become controlling and mentally abusive. After the birth, I had a break down and got sectioned. I was self-harming, highly medicated and I wanted to die. I had several attempts at suicide. Once my son was placed in my mother’s care on a voluntary basis, I pretty much just went of the rails. I started to use drink and drugs to escape reality. I was also sent to prison, which turns out to be one of the best things to happen to me.”
Having the chance to take place in sport without prior judgement was crucial to Tasha’s development. Upon meeting Sarah and the team at Street45 sessions, she started to feel as she was being accepted for being herself.
“I was really nervous going along for the first time and struggled with meeting new people and new environments. Once I got involved, I loved it. I was buzzing. I was made to feel so welcome and nobody was judging me, which was a big thing for me. The coaches gave me a lot of support and encouragement and built me up. I started to believe in myself.
Street Soccer was a place for me to come along every week, feel part of something and keep busy. I was around positive people that have been through the same things. That gave me a sense of hope. Hope that I had potential and I could build my life back up.”
The on-pitch support at Street Soccer sessions barely scratches the surface, says Tasha. Sarah has been a role model for players such as Tasha, with the latter highlighting the development of their relationship.
“For me, that sense of belonging that I have got from the sessions has been the real difference. It’s like a big family. I have always felt like I struggled to fit in and its not like that here. Sarah supports me fantastically too and has been there for me throughout my issues with addiction. All the sessions have been a great opportunity for me to grow as a person. It’s been amazing.
I feel like I have everything I need when I come here. I have struggled a little bit lately with my self-esteem and unfortunately had a relapse a couple of weeks back, but I’m back on track now. The support has been amazing. Knowing that some of the girls have had similar struggles allows me to build up that friendship and trust. You never feel alone.”
Despite her recent struggles, Tasha knows that she is in the right place in order to reach her goals. She explains that Street Soccer’s focus on mental health is a big factor in her own development.
“The mental health focus has been important, especially with the pandemic and our periods in isolation. Having the support system here keeps you on the right path. The lassies are brilliant with me. We always have great banter and they are there to listen to you if you need a chat.”
With so many memories in her five years with Street Soccer, Tasha is looking forward to more opportunities that are available on the player pathway.
“The sessions help my physical and mental health. I enjoy feeling like I’m gaining from every single session. It’s a big part of my life. A key highlight for me was having the chance to play with the girls in London. We travelled down for a tournament and it was a really special experience.”
So, what’s next? With sessions three times a week in Glasgow, Tasha and her team-mates enjoy a varied programme from football to Zumba and boxercise.
“Street Soccer has gave me a lot of personal and social skills. Through this, I have started to believe that I am a good person. That’s always been the thing and the forefront of my mind.
Since coming here, I don’t worry as much about what other people think. For example, when they first started doing Zumba dancing and I thought ‘no way’ but now I love it! Its great to try out new things.”
With many inspiring stories across Street Soccer, Tasha is one of many players in our programmes who has benefitted from structure and routine and tells us that she has made friends for life.
“By coming here, you meet new people. You become a better version of yourself and you will feel the difference. The opportunities we get are amazing. My family here at Street Soccer want the best for me and genuinely do care about me. That’s what lifts me up.”
Tasha’s story is one of our series to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th. You can get involved with our women’s only programme across Scotland. Find out more about where to play by contacting Women’s Programme Coordinator Sarah Rhind on [email protected] or 07480981819.