NEWS: Football Fridays - Fundraising Appeal

Football Fridays is our popular weekly football session that we have been delivering since January 2022 at Fairfield School. Today we launch a fundraising appeal to secure its long term future.

Words: Delroy Hibbert, @crossingthedanny

Images: Omar Antonio, @leftwantingmo & Bristol Rovers Community Trust, @bristolroversct

Since beginning our football sessions for young men we have always attracted large numbers with 50 – 80 of them attending each week, aged 14 – 18  from every area of Bristol to play fun but competitive matches on Friday evenings.

Image: Bristol Rovers Community Trust

The sessions are also provided at low cost to participants as we know that a large number of the young men attending come from families and areas affected by economic hardship and our aim is that cost should not be a barrier to participation. 

So, why are we appealing for donations I hear you thinking? The answer is for a number of reasons.

First of all, the costs of providing the sessions outweigh the weekly subs our young people pay to attend and we know from past experience that raising the costs of attending to a break even point would make it unaffordable for a lot of them.

Image: Bristol Rovers Community Trust

Our costs for the session include the pitch hire fees plus four qualified coaches to manage the games. In addition to this we have to pay for the insurance, equipment & training needed to ensure they are run in a legally safe & inclusive environment. We also want to secure long term funding to reduce grant dependency and ensure the long term viability of this project.

In recent months we have been forced to suspend the sessions due to a lack of funding but are now planning to restart them in November. 

Another important factor for these sessions is that Bristol in recent years has seen far too much conflict and problems with groups of young men from different areas and postcodes in the city.

Image: Omar Antonio

As I mentioned at the beginning we draw players from all over the city and this project is essential in providing a safe environment for them to come together which helps break down perceived barriers between young people around postcodes and ideas of territory and has a positive impact on their health & wellbeing.

In my 12 years of working with children & young people in Bristol my professional experience has taught me that we as a society need to be more proactive in tackling antisocial behaviour amongst young people by offering positive alternatives. Unfortunately over the last decade we have seen a decrease in youth clubs due to changes and reductions in funding which has contributed to the increase in young people becoming involved in crime.

Image: Omar Antonio

Most recently a young person I have known for over ten years was murdered in a gang-related incident in St Pauls. This was an incident that affected me deeply and which, if I am going to be totally honest, is one of my main motivations for ensuring the sessions restarted and are able to continue in the long term.

In the long term we also believe we can do more for this group of young men and others like them. Freestyle Bristol would like to explore actually increasing our football delivery especially during the summer months when we know there is a rise in asb partly due to a lack of activities during the school holidays that are aimed at teenagers.

Image: Bristol Rovers Community Trust

If you would like to help us in supporting young people through our football sessions and ensuring our long term sustainability please visit our fundraising page here  or scan the QR code below. If you would be interested in sponsoring this project and/or want to find out more about how you can help please contact me at  i n f 

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