Taking football to the streets
30-year-old John Davison, a teaching assistant from the local Roundhay School and an avid football enthusiast, has run the Street Football programme in the heart of Leeds for over a year now, catering for almost 50 youths who just want to play football in the built-up city.
With green spaces becoming more and more sparse, the idea to host street football contests came during the Hyde Park Unity Day. From that one-day exhibition, the events now occur every half-term whereby local children are gathered to contest for trophies and prizes.
With the help of fellow coach, Havar Munir, the street side has kicked off over the last year and recently received vital funding to ensure a promising future.
Speaking about his passion for sport, John said: “I love what I do really because it gives some of these lads, who can’t necessarily get to a club, the chance to play football.
“It is completely free to join in meaning we get a whole range of players turning up to take part in our under 18 and under 12 competitions.
“I feel like a celebrity nowadays when I walk down to the courts with my friends as I know all the kids who are going to be there and they always call me. It is a great feeling to be able to provide such a service to so many kids.”
Initially, John had to pay for the equipment himself yet the recent acquisition of funding from ‘Sportivate’, a lottery funded Olympic legacy project, has released that burden from the coach’s load, whilst also opening up a number of doors and opportunities to the players.
“We are very fortunate to have got this funding actually because we can now purchase the basic equipment,” he explains.
“We buy trophies for tournament winners and have plans to hopefully award the winning teams and top players with the chance to play elsewhere in the country.
"These initiatives are now available to the players, some of whom are actually very, very good, and just need that chance to showcase their talents.”
At the end of each tournament information is issued with all the information about nearby football training sessions, to cater for the youth’s who wish to join a team. However, for the majority, it seems a kick- about with the Street Football team is the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful game.
If you would like to take part in the football tournaments, opportunities will be presented throughout the winter months. Hyde Park & Woodhouse FC currently hold futsal training sessions at the City of Leeds School’s sports hall on Friday nights during term time.
For children aged between 11 and 16-year- old, the free activities begin at 4.30pm and finish at 6pm. Open age training is available straight after, between 6pm and 8pm, with a charge of £5 for adults and £3 for 16-18 year olds.