Age 19, Tottenham/Peckham
When I was younger, I used to be in a gang, and I got expelled from school in Year 8. My reputation meant I didn’t stand a chance of getting into another mainstream secondary school. I moved around a few different education centres but was successively thrown out, until I eventually found one to take me. It was a tough time, because my mum was in and out of hospital for mental health reasons. But then I realised I couldn’t use that as an excuse to fail at life, so I got my stuff together and got some GCSEs.
I didn’t know what to do next until I discovered Let Me Play, which provides sport and volunteering opportunities. They got me interested in sports coaching, and I got my FA Level 1 soon after. That’s how I first got involved in social action. Through Let Me Play, I volunteered to run free sports activities for young people on a London estate. Last year, I was a volunteer young leader at Edmonton Craig’s Park Unity Hub through Enfield Council, mentoring other young people. Recently, I have set up a football team with my friend, buying equipment using our own money and doing free football training for young people who live on my old estate.
I try to show them that playing on a team is way more worthwhile than fighting in a gang and that you can learn more transferable skills and life skills in a team. Although I couldn’t see that when I was younger, I definitely can now.