Where we have been & where we are heading

From small beginnings our Football For Everyone scheme has grown from strength to strength, and we have some pretty big plans coming up too.

Surveying the dressing room post-game was just like any other post-Sunday league match, some lads laughing, some sitting quietly trying to catch their breath and then there was Abdul who came up to me with a tear rolling down his face and said the only English words he knew “thank you coach”.

Abdul had played for such illustrious professional clubs as Al-Ahli and Al-Hilal as well as professional teams in his home country of South Sudan before he had to flee from the terrible ravages of war in the country. Thanks to City of Liverpool FC and the “Football for Everyone” scheme men like Abdul can, for ninety minutes at least, feel a sense of normality in their lives as well as help give them that feeling of self-worth that goes along with feeling part of his local community.

Through no fault of their own these lads may have suffered either on the streets of this city or in a far-flung refugee camp and now they are here we have to bring them back to life, to give them that zest for life snatched from them through circumstances usually out of their control. In training the main thing we can work on is self-confidence, we can speak to these lads and tell them that they can achieve what they want.

The football for everyone scheme has been running for almost a year now and the way that we work is that it is open to absolutely everyone, but employed lads who play pay £2/£3 a week to cover the costs of pitch hire etc and to refugees, asylum seekers, the unemployed and the homeless it’s totally free.

Our aim is to use football to make a positive impact on people’s lives, either through giving them the opportunity to play football that they may not have had before or by giving them the chance to volunteer with the backroom team.

We have an amazing volunteer team that works tirelessly to make all our sessions happen without hiccup so some big thanks must go to them as well as to the COLFC board who have been unswerving in their support for the project.

We usually have around 20-30 players each week and the mix is usually 70% refugees/asylum seekers and 30% local lads. Lads that may never have encountered a refugee, asylum seeker or homeless person face to face and that may have had ill-informed ideas about them now see them as friends and we have had some great memories together as a team and individually.

We have played in a number of tournaments and also have regular games against our good friends Mersey Marauders, an LGBT team based in Liverpool who have been a massive help to us and continue to be at the forefront of creating inclusive environments for people to play in.