Follow the action!

For all (well, most) of the action as it happens, follow me on Facebook and Twitter!

Friday, 3 April 2009

Football is more than just a game

I went up to London for the day yesterday to visit The Football Foundation and The Premier League, to see if they can offer any help to Shirehampton Football Club. Here's me, slightly overwhelmed, with the English Premiership Cup.

Apart from the high-light of seeing the cup, we had an interesting meeting. As expected, there's a lot more work to do to see how they can best help. But while I was there, Alistair Bennett from the Football Foundation ( left) and Dan Johnson from the Premier League ( right) told me about some of the social inclusion work that they do through football.

It's all really simple. If young people are doing something they can engage with and become good at, it changes every aspect of their lives. They told me about one of their boys who was a young offender. He got into football, now earns money coaching his local club and goes back to his old estate as a powerful role model for boys and girls growing up as he did.

I sometimes worry that as the credit crunch bites, schemes like this that use sport ( or music, or drama or anything like that ) will get sidelined. That would be a very false economy. It costs thousands to keep a young offender locked up, and in their lifetime they will cost society hundreds of thousands through lost potential earnings and episodes with the criminal justice system. Social inclusion through sport is not a fun optional-extra. It really works. And as we tighten our purse strings for the future, it makes more sense than ever before.

No comments: