Doorway Football – ‘Season Review 2010/11’

It’s now just over a year since we launched the Doorway Football Project (V.2) and since, soon after that, I posted this here about that launch and about the Homeless World Cup. It’s also the eve of our second tournament appearance, at OSIC 2011 (The Oxford Social Inclusion Cup, Monday 10th October, deliberately taking place on World Homeless Action Day / World Mental Health Day). So, it seemed to be an appropriate time to report the way the football drop-in has developed, and how that compares with what we envisaged.

It’s been a hugely enjoyable year. The numbers involved, the fitness, and the skill levels, have all clearly increased. Female guests have played a major part, defying the sexist assumptions of some outside parties. The team played in the WASP tournament in Trowbridge, emerging with great credit for both their performances and their attitude. The involvement from a fairly early point of Chippenham Futsal Club coach Chris made a huge difference in giving our sessions structure and making the skill development more focussed. And generally, we’ve had FUN!

But that’s a subjective snapshot. How do the figures stack up, and what were our original objectives?

The figures:

In the year 2nd August 2010 to/including 29th August, we ran 48 drop-in football sessions on Mondays, and took part in the tournament mentioned above. 4 Mondays were lost to Bank Holiday staff unavailability (although sessions took place on the other Bank Holiday Mondays).

Dividing the year into 4 quarters:

Q1: Guests per session: Min 2 Max 3 Ave 2.25
Total players per session: Min 4 Max 7 Ave 5.67

Q2: Guests per session: Min 1 Max 4 Ave 2.83
Total players per session: Min 5 Max 8 Ave 7.17

Q3: Guests per session: Min 1 Max 5 Ave 3.09
Total players per session: Min 5 Max 10 Ave 7.36

Q4: Guests per session: Min 4 Max 9 Ave 6.69
Total players per session: Min 7 Max 15 Ave 10.69

This shows how the early, frankly sometimes dispiritingly, low numbers have increased, and have justified ‘plugging away’. The policy was that however few turned up, we would be there and have some sort of session, come what may. And special thanks to the loyal guests who also kept turning up in those early days, and still do. Julian and Lee, take a bow.

What were our originally stated objectives in the funding application, and how much have we achieved these?

“We aim to:

– Provide supervised football activity for people aged 16+ who would not normally have access to sports opportunities.

– Offer a positive alternative to congregating on the streets outside normal drop in hours.

Undoubtedly achieved. Although in the second case, for only a limited amount of time. However, the project has, by guests’ own testimony, sometimes given them motivation to avoid drinking (we have not had the same conversations re using), at least until after the session….

– Engage with guests of Doorway who are more comfortable expressing themselves through structured physical activity.

– Encourage teamwork / social cohesion amongst guests.

– Take a guest activity outside the confines of the Salvation Army building.

– Provide physical activity and positive social engagement to counteract the boredom of guests’ everyday lives and to improve their general health and sense of wellbeing.

– Promote social cohesion and enhanced teamwork between individual guests.

I think that all of these have been achieved, though it is difficult to find objective measures for some of these outcomes. In terms of fitness, it would have been possible to do very scientific fitness measurements before and during the year, but these would involve specialist equipment and expertise. More worryingly, I might have had to have my own fitness measured, and I’m not sure I can cope with that sort of scrutiny… But guests certainly appear to us to be fitter and stronger on the pitch, and some have tried to put in extra fitness and skills work between drop-in sessions. Skills have, subjectively-viewed, increased enormously, and this is very largely due to Chris’s experience and talent, and his constantly changing and challenging training drills.

– Offer new opportunities for volunteering – individuals who work full time and are therefore unable to volunteer for drop-in sessions.

   Chris and Steve are both in this category. There has been the added bonus that Chris has also been cornered into using his daytime professional skills for the benefit of Doorway!

– Develop a new partnership with a local church and its members.

Done, and Ladyfield Evangelical Church has been kind enough to supply a minibus and driver for our trip to Oxford.

– Offer opportunities for developing relationships with other football projects eg WASP 

  Good relationships have been forged with WASP including taking part in their annual tournament and communication and sharing of planning regarding the OSIC tournament. We also had increased communication with the Amber Foundation via social media around and after the WASP tournament.

 Implement a permanent project with up to 10 guests attending, using sponsored kit etc obtained during pilot scheme 2009.

Done, and indeed our new pink kit (guests choice!) with    Doorway logo is now on order.

– Aim to initiate a local charity 5 a side football league.

 There is no move towards this yet.

– Generate publicity to tie in with the Homeless World Cup in September 2010 – and raise wider recognition locally of issues around homelessness.

The first was achieved. We hope that tournament involvement in particular will help with the second part.

– Work with the Community Football facilitator to offer access to further sporting opportunities for guests who wish to develop their skills further.

This has not yet been done, and the experience with the OSIC tournament has made it clear that FA involvement may well block the development of the project as a mixed gender one, so we must be cautious, as we have encouraged female involvement from the outset.

So, generally speaking, it’s been an excellent year. I’ll end with some comments:

From coach Chris:

“These sessions are a real pleasure. The enthusiasm and willingness to learn from the guests, support workers and volunteers has been refreshing.” 

From Douglas from the church:

“Everyone was smiling at the end of the session”

From some of the guests (we regularly obtain feedback from them, including the comments here and here)):

“We’re working more as a team…we are finding our own strengths and weaknesses on which we are working…every week we are getting better every time we turn up

 “Things are improving every week”

“We were all working together really well as a team, as well as on our own”

“People are more aware of each other and their individual skills, so are helping improvements in each other. For some, they are becoming more extrovert. I think this is a good place for people to socialise and also to become fitter”

“Good fun, love the people!”

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