Michael McEwan: How football can be a positive thing for Scottish society

CommonSpace columnist Michael McEwan gives an overview of Street Soccer Scotland, and says football can have a positive effect on social problems

I WOULD say that the number one sport in Scotland is football, and it's not just reserved to the parks and the terraces. 

Street Soccer Scotland was founded in 2009 as a social enterprise which uses football-inspired training and personal development as a medium to empower people who are affected by social exclusion, to help make positive changes in their lives. 

Working 360 days a year all over Scotland, they believe sport can inspire, motivate, develop and unite people from all backgrounds.

By inspiring people to be all they can be on and off the pitch, this increases people's motivation for life and success which in turn helps them develop as a person, increasing self esteem and self efficiency, all while developing trust.

By inspiring people to be all they can be on and off the pitch, this increases people's motivation for life and success which in turn helps them develop as a person, increasing self esteem and self efficiency, all while developing trust.

Ultimately, Street Soccer believes sport provides opportunity to participate in life, tackle exclusion and it provides opportunity for real, impactful social change. Street Soccer operates in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness.

Its mission is to support the hope that is shared by most people in Scotland – to see poverty eradicated.

One child in every five in Scotland currently lives in poverty, going to bed at night hungry. There are many isolated pensioners who are cold and alone, and many young people are leaving school with no prospects. As one of the wealthiest nations in the world, it is unacceptable to see fellow humans roaming the streets at night with no place to call home.

According to Shelter Scotland, in 2015/16 there were 28,266 homeless people in Scotland and 34,662 homeless applications made.

One child in every five in Scotland currently lives in poverty, going to bed at night hungry. There are many isolated pensioners who are cold and alone, and many young people are leaving school with no prospects.

Street Soccer's mission is to provide opportunity and build hope, because without these change is impossible.

Street Soccer Scotland also welcomes groups and individuals from a variety of socially disadvantaged backgrounds, dealing with issues including homelessness, mental health, addiction, long term unemployment, and there are no upper age limits. Many of the Street Soccer players share their inspiring stories, and how they have created positive change through football.

Street Soccer Scotland engages with a host of services and projects to provide more options and solutions for the players.

Drop-in sessions are often the first step in engaging in their services. These two hours of fun football sessions offer players a chance to meet new people, improve physical health, increase confidence and provide players with a safe and positive environment. All these sessions are free and open to anyone aged 16 and over, and delivered across numerous venues in Scotland.

To find out more about the good work that Street Soccer does, visit the website here.

Street Soccer's mission is to provide opportunity and build hope, because without these change is impossible.

In 2016, the Homeless World Cup took place here in Glasgow, in the heart of George Square, which was transformed into the most inspiring place on the planet.  

The event was on for seven days, teams united from across the globe to celebrate and highlight the year round life changing work of the international partner network. 512 players arrived in Glasgow, each with their stories to tell, at their own points on a journey to create a better life for themselves.

I went along to a few games, it was a good atmosphere and well attended. There was also daily TV coverage, high spirits and sense of achievement. 

It was an excellent way to raise awareness of homelessness, and on a relatively low budget it was well planned and coordinated. I look forward to Homeless World Cup perhaps returning to Glasgow or Scotland, and similar events.

Picture courtesy of Jon Brady

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