Age 19, Peckham
My upbringing was challenging when I was younger, living on a council estate with my mum as my dad was not around. The environment was difficult, and I was easily influenced there by some of the people around me leading me into trouble with the police on many occasions. My school life suffered as a consequence, as I was a difficult student, which eventually led to a meeting with Lord Harris, the school’s owner, as they discussed the possibility of excluding me.
After some poor exam results, I gave myself a talking to, and started taking school, and life, more seriously. I joined afterschool classes, and stepped up my revision. I saw how my mum was struggling and said to myself that I would get her and me out of this struggle. I started thinking outside of the box and considering what I was good at – which led me to football – and I soon started coaching other young people about turning to sports rather than to a life of crime. Through helping them, I was helping me.
I had always played football but I never focused when I was young. What turned a corner for me was coaching younger players in the sport and showing them what a difference it had made in my life, and how it could help them in theirs. Right now I am chasing my dreams of becoming a professional footballer, playing and training most days of the week.