By Izzy Wightman
New football sessions will give more girls the opportunity to get involved in community sport for free, with a difference.
The St Matthew’s Project has announced it is partnering with the Leap Confronting Conflict organisation to launch a midweek turn-up-and-play session for 11 to 17-year-old girls on Wednesdays, starting in April.
Girls will have the chance to receive one and a half hours of football coaching and play small-sided games, with free food and refreshments – but that is not the only benefit.
Since the Project started in 2004 with a kick-about in the park, it has focused on providing a safe and encouraging environment for young people to come together and enjoy sports and learning opportunities. The aim is to help local young people fulfil their potential and improve their well-being through targeted support to children and families, and previous members have gone on to achieve success and professional football qualifications.
Rinsola Babajide was a member of the 2014 team and is now a Liverpool and England Under-21s striker, and the team’s lead coach now also plays for AFC Wimbledon Ladies after joining the Saturday sessions as a player when she was 14.
The first girls team started with just three players in 2008, but it now draws in young people from across Lambeth to its weekly Saturday session and, since 2010, the Project runs a schools’ football festival every year in collaboration with Lambeth Council.
The new sessions will take place from 5pm-7:30pm every Wednesday at the Yellow Qube Centre, 65 Christchurch Road, Tulse Hill, SW2 3DH. For more information, visit http://www.thesmp.net.