Andy, Jack and Charlie came along to the Heads Together BBQ to talk about how football can provide a support network for kids.
Andy set up the junior football club, Langley JFC which is attended by 200+ 7 – 13 year olds in Bromley. The ethos of the club is really to create a supportive atmosphere – all the players know each other by name across the 20+ teams, they have even created ‘match attack’ style cards for each player so that the younger ones can get to know the older ones and vice versa.
Andy says: “I set up club Langley, a junior football club 5 years ago, we’re just going into our 6th season and we have 22 teams starting next year and it started from just 2.
The club is like their second home, it is a massive support network for them. It’s really good, we’ve got kids that have gone off to academies, but when they’re academy training finishes they still come back to see us. It’s what they know and everyone knows everyone.
We also have two welfare officers on the site so if any of the kids have problems with bullying or anything like that they come to us. If someone wanted to disclose something I think they would more happily come to their sports coaches over a teacher or something, and even their mates at the club rather than school because they feel really close to them. Like where we go on tours, and we go away and stay the night in a hotel and stuff like that, they feel close to them boys, it is a really good network for them to have.
We’re now partnered with Place2Be. We wanted to find a charity that we could be more involved with and that meant something to us as well. And what Place2Be do with building confidence into children when they are younger, I feel like our club does that anyway. So I felt it would be a really great charity to run with. We’re now trying to introduce some stuff that Place2Be does this year, like a Langley tool board where similar to what they do in schools – kids can fill in a little cards and post them through a box if they want to talk to someone. Then us welfare officers at the club will make that time for them, to check in on them and give them the space to talk, whether before or after training we’ll make that time.
Some of the young players have benefited from support from Place2Be in their schools. Find out more about the services they offer on their website.