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ABCD Project helps support Furzedown United ‘Football is for All’ Ethos

ABCD Project helps support Furzedown United ‘Football is for All’ Ethos

Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) is a methodology that invites people to become more engaged in their community.

Through workshops and mentoring, clubs and organisations are provided with the skills to attract new participants and diversify their membership, as well as creating links within their community with other clubs, organisations, and schools.
Adapting ABCD for London

The ClubWorks ABCD project in Croydon was initially led by Croydon Voluntary Action (CVA) and this is how the model was adapted for London:

  • ClubWorks support officers identified clubs/organisations that would benefit from employing the ABCD approach
  • CVA led three workshops with representatives from these clubs as an introduction to the methodology
  • ClubWorks support officers worked with the clubs to adopt the approach and programmes related to it
  • CVA Community Builders mentored and supported the officers through the process with their specialist expertise and experience

The project involved a familiarisation session with ClubWorks staff followed by three half-day workshops. At these workshops, attendees were invited to take part in mentoring to support the development of an asset based approach.
The clubs that received this more bespoke mentoring were, Furzedown United, Athenlay FC, Queen Mary’s University, Action on Disability and Cruz Sports, with the most extensive work taking place with Furzedown United.

Furzedown United FC is a youth football club based in south London with three teams at under nines, under 10s and under 11s. The club has a vision of adding to this with an under six and under eight team. Ran by Morris Nelson, the Club Manager, and supported by two coaches and a committee of volunteers, the club enforces the club’s ethos as “Football is for All”.

The Club’s vision includes; growing the development and competitive objectives, creating a pitch on Streatham Common and expanding the club’s community commitment further whilst drawing in support from local businesses, schools, and community organisations.

Playing football and having fun

The Club also started a hugely successful project called the Free Community Sunday Kick, after noticing a decline in participation in sport in the community. They started a regular football activity for children and adults to play football and have fun each Sunday. Up to fifty young people and adults take part in this enjoyable, safe, and rewarding environment.

Morris said: “It has far reaching consequences. Many go to different schools but now they know each other in their area and as such feel safer and more connected to the area they live in. The same can be said of the parents many of whom take part in the kickabout and feel they have gifts to offer the club”.

Through the ABCD approach, Morris began to build on his connections, inviting the community to offer support to the club. In recent months, the achievements have been immense, making the vision a reality – with some of the offerings toward the growth of the club listed below:

  • Sponsorship and support from Tesco’s
  • Kit sponsorship from local solicitors Anthony Gold with further contacts offered through legal works and clients
  • Staff support from Lambeth youth service
  • Greater involvement of parents at the community kickabout
  • Discussions with Friends of Streatham Common to look at the possibility of creating pitches on the Common
  • Working relationship with St Andrews girl’s school and increased involvement of girls in the club
  • Immanuel and St Andrew church congregation members offering support
  • A youth club supplying participants, coaches, and volunteers

On the success of the programme, Morris added:
“I soon found out that I was known as the ‘football man’ and the youngsters started to bring their friends and well-known people from the estate to the Kick About. We now have a young man from the Estate who is helping with coaching. This is clear evidence that step by step relationships are being built via ABCD”.

The community initiative has seen remarkable improvements and the joy of community extended beyond the two hours of kick about each week. It is also apparent that professionals and organisations from youth clubs, businesses, schools, and places of worship are approaching the club to offer their support to connect the community further.

Tom Browne, relationship officer for London Sport, who led on the project said:
“Paul Macey and his team at the CVA have been fantastic in supporting our clubs and community organisations to adopt this approach and, taking the example of Furzedown United FC’s success in adopting the long-term philosophy, we’re hopefully able to encourage more organisations to benefit from this approach for many years to come.”

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