The Goals Project continues to give disadvantaged adults vital opportunites.
Paul Elliott, the ex-Chelsea and Celtic defender, visited Soho Square on Friday to congratulate the latest intake of Goals Project graduates.
Run by UK charity, Street League, and supported by The FA and the Football Foundation, the Goals Project uses football as a vehicle to give disadvantaged adults important life skills, with 65% of graduates going back into further education or full-time employment since the scheme launched seven years ago.
The latest intake of graduates completed their five-week course at Millwall FC (Queen's Park Rangers FC also host the Project) and enjoyed activities such as drama and city orienteering, whilst money management and motivational techniques were also covered.
However, the project is driven by football and the participants train with Millwall's Football in the Community team throughout the five weeks, culminating in a match against the coaches at the conclusion of the project.
On Friday, the participants were invited into Soho Square for their graduation ceremony and Elliott was on-hand to present them with their cerificates and also offer a few words of wisdom. So how did he find the ceremony?
"Very moving," he admitted. "It’s hard to imagine that five weeks ago these lads didn’t even know each other and now they’re claiming to be part of a ‘team’.
"It just shows football’s power to deliver key social messages and in this group it’s all about unity, life skills, ambition, motivation, humility, education; all the tools that are very important to survive in this world."
One of the graduates, Haine Durrant-Kirnon,
was also honoured with a special award - The FA Fair Game Award.
The FA Fair Game Award is given to one individual on each Goals intake who, on the field of play, shows the strongest commitment to the values of football - fair play, respect, commitment, dedication, teamwork, honesty and enthusiasm. As well as the trophy, Hanie will also receive
a ticket to this season’s FA Cup Final at Wembley.
"A huge debt must be paid to everyone involved in this scheme," continued Elliott. "Street League, the Goals Project staff, all the stakeholders, The FA, the Football Foundation. All of these organisations have come together to make a positive contribution to the community and leave a lasting legacy.
"Just like football, this scheme is very simple and that’s the beauty of it, that’s why it has lasted so long. Football can address so many social issues and this project exemplifies that.
"I think it’s important that all of these graduates realise that they now have something to pay back to society themselves. This project has taught them so much and now it’s important that they utilise these new skills and move forward."
For further information on the Goals Project, please visit the Street League website.