Junior football coach Nathan Samuel won a Jack Petchey Foundation Leader’s Award for his dedication to helping young people get off the streets and into sports in South London.
Nathan coaches the Under-14 team at St. Matthews Project, an all-inlcusive football project which regulalry engages with over 150 young people from across Lambeth. Nathan began working at the project over three years ago, beginning as a volunteer before taking up a full coaching role at the club.
He said, “The team I inherited consisted of a group of young people with various social issues, low confidence and living in areas rife with gang culture. They were however, undoubteldly full of immense potential.”
The team responded to Nathan’s belief in them, and with a lot of hard work, were impressively able to win promotion in their first season, and win a cup the following year.
“Working with this group of young men has been very rewarding but without doubt challenging. As we are constantly reminded at St. Matthew’s – These are the kids that will appreciate you the most – and nothing could be truer.”
Thanks to the opportunity provided by St. Matthew’s Project and Nathan’s guidance over the last three years, the players have grown both as a team and individually. They have lost their ‘bad reputation’ and outside of football, many of the young people are shunning peers associated with local gangs.
Founder of St Matthew’s Project Lee Dema said, “It is widely accepted that Nathan took on the most challenging group of 12 year olds we have seen at SMP, which is saying something! Despite difficult circumstances and a host of extreme behavioural issues, Nathan has been a calming influence, never losing patience and gradually bringing about positive changes in these young men.”
The St Matthews Project started life in 2004, literally as a kickabout in the local park for young people from one estate. As the group began to see themselves as part of a wider estate community, they realised they had many shared interests with young people from other areas – one of which was football!
The project has only blossomed in the following years, working with Lambeth Council and a host of other agencies to provide young boys and girls with opportunities for personal development and to fulfill their potential. In addition to footballing activities, the project have arranged trips, encouragd youth volunteering and delivered training courses and healthy lifestyle workshops. Congratulations to them on all they have achieved!
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