Ashleigh joined Street Soccer sessions in Motherwell earlier this year and believes that the structure that weekly football sessions have provided, has made a significant impact on her life.
“I’m feeling a lot better since starting, I’m out the house and I’m not isolated.”
Having played football in her younger years, Ashleigh was referred to Street Soccer by her addiction worker and hasn’t looked back since.
“I have always struggled to get in to a girls team, so when my addiction worker let me know about this session, I gave it a go and I’ve been loving it. Before coming here, I hadn’t played football for years due to my addiction issues. Coming here, getting me out and about and having a focus is going to really benefit my recovery.”
Despite the initial concerns about fitting in to the sessions, due to currently being the only female player, Ashleigh credits her team-mates for the warm welcome that she received.
“We weren’t 100% sure if it would be right for me in this environment – although I have never been too intimidated when playing football with guys – but I feel totally relaxed here, it’s a good laugh.
I would only encourage other females to try as I’m sure all the other Street Soccer sessions have a group as good as this one. All the players have helped me settle in really well. Some of them have made sure a number of times that I’m doing alright and help walk me to the bus stop, these wee things make the difference. Coming here has really been a step in the right direction.”
The real sense of community from the newly developed session in Motherwell is testament to both the players and the strong work of Stuart, Colin, John and Graham who lead on the session as part of the network programme. Players, as part of this session, have grown close both on and off the pitch, with trips through to Portobello for our Monthly Matchdays often a highlight, in terms of team-building. These small actions are often the foundations for positive change, allowing players across Street Soccer to pick up good habits as well as a healthy structure and routine.
Ashleigh highlights that the pitch time at Fir Park Astro has been the key aspect in staying focused on her recovery journey.
“When I’m on the pitch, I don’t need to think about the demons in my head, as they might say. Everything is left at the front door. I’m mixing with new people and I can relate to a lot of people here, you’re not alone in the issues you may have with drink or drugs.”
Like many other players, Ashleigh acknowledges that without fear of judgement and through shared experiences, a special level of trust develops amongst the group.
“I don’t feel judged here, we’re all in the same boat. Everyone gets an equal opportunity and that’s what has made these first few months really positive.”
In the past, Ashleigh notes that her passion for football lead her in to coaching, and despite falling away from that in the past, she is encouraged by the fact that Street Soccer provide additional opportunities for players in our programmes.
“I’ve always wanted to be a coach, so I like the fact you can sense opportunity here. You can see how passionate the coaches are here like John and Patty who have been given the chance. Everyone seems pleased for them. For now, I’m focusing on myself and my recovery journey but its nice to see that Street Soccer can provide a second chance for people like me.”
If you’re interested in taking part in our session in Motherwell, you can turn up and play for free every Monday. The session takes place at Fir Park Astro from 1:30-3pm every week.
This session, like many others, are new to our programmes expanding across Scotland. You can learn more about our Network Programme here.