A groundbreaking youth project will climax on Tuesday 24th April at a sports festival in Hackney. Nineteen young Londoners who were not in employment, education or training (NEETs) last summer have become qualified coaches and run sessions on some of the toughest estates in the Capital. Now they will use sport to tackle the tribalism and gang culture which divides so many communities.
The festival is part of a 3 year programme called Street Elite, run by The Lords Taverners and Cricket for Change. It uses sport to help disadvantaged young people develop the confidence and skills to get their lives on track. At a time when the drop in sports participation amongst 16-19 year olds has become increasingly topical*, Street Elite also shows there is positive work taking place on the streets of the Capital.
Matthew Patten, Chief Executive of leading youth sports charity, The Lord’s Taverners, said: “Sport is a fantastic way to help tackle the tribalism that divides so many communities in London. It creates a space in which young people from different schools and postcodes can learn to collaborate.”
Over the last six months, each of the 19 young people has gained a coaching qualification in cricket, football, rugby or futsal. They have then organized sessions with youngsters on local housing estates, inspiring them to get involved in sport and other positive activities which help address the kind of disillusion which led to the August 2011 riots across much of the country.
One of the coaches, Shaddai Olofinbinu, who is helping to run a Street Elite festival, said: “Without the programme, I’d probably be back in prison right now.”
Each of the six festivals this summer will give hundreds of young people a chance to try a variety of sports and join a local sports club. There will also be street dancing sessions and a Met Police workshop on offer. The first festival takes place in Hackney at Millfields Park North, Clapton on Tuesday 24th April and will be attended by approximately 200 young people plus coaching staff from Tottenham Hotspur FC, who will join in with the football session.
Street Elite is supported by the Metropolitan Police and funded by the Berkeley Foundation. Rob Perrins, Managing Director of the Berkeley Group said: “When you see that youth unemployment is costing the public purse £4.8 billion in 2012, you realize how much we need projects like Street Elite. It’s low-cost and highly effective. And if it works in London, why not roll this out nationwide?”
Tuesday 24th April - Hackney - Millfields Park North, Clapton
Wednesday 25th April - Southwark - Burgess Park Community Sports Ground
Thursday 26th April - Greenwich - Thomas Tallis School, Kidbrooke Village
Tuesday 29th May - Wandsworth - Wandsworth Common
Wednesday 30th May - Hammersmith & Fulham - Linford Christie Outdoor Sports Centre
Thursday 31st May - Ealing - Gurnell Leisure Centre