The Power of Football

Leeds Gryphons have been out supporting young refugees in the local community…

Sport Science students at the University of Leeds recently had the opportunity to take part in a brand new project. The students delivered ten weeks of football coaching at the Leeds Refugee Forum as part of our Gryphons in the Community programme. Seven students took part in this pilot scheme delivering football and English language skills to unaccompanied minors at the One Community Centre in Harehills. They spent their Saturday mornings with individuals from countries such as Syria, Eritrea and Sudan.

During the first hour of the session, the students supported language tutors to teach English as a second language. Partnering up with one of the refugees, students supported them with tasks and practising their English conversation. During the second hour the students took the lead in facilitating a football session. All the students got stuck in, organising drills, games and matches and even joining in with the participants. 

What did everyone have to say?

Students reported improvements in their confidence, interpersonal communication and problem solving skills as a result of being involved in the project. Callum Bailey, one of the students involved shared his experience:

After I got involved with the volunteering project I found it so enjoyable. I would definitely consider doing it again in the future and would recommend others to do it as well. It helped me improve on skills such as leadership, teamwork and confidence. Everything I’ve learnt will also help aid my employability in the future.

Following a successful pilot Leeds Sport now hope to sustain this new partnership.  We are also looking to develop links with other community groups in Leeds, bringing people together through sport. 

Suzzi Garnett, the Sports Volunteering Officer at the University could also see the benefits:

The participants involved were around the same age as the students but obviously from an altogether different background. It was wonderful to see the students and participants interacting and having fun together. I could see the confidence of both the students and participants grow week on week.

Gryphons in the Community programmes allow people from all over Leeds to come together through sport. All the projects are fun and rewarding with students helping people in Leeds to live more active lives.

Ali Mahgoub, Director of the Leeds Refugee Forum shared his support:

Integration through sport and other activities is an important part of what we do at the Leeds Refugee Forum. The support of the students at the University of Leeds has exposed our young refugees to different cultures and allowed them to practice their English conversation.

This years project has been a huge success in helping students to make a difference right here in Leeds. Sport Science students will have the opportunity to sign up to Gryphons in the Community projects, including the Leeds Refugee Forum once again in September 2018. But don’t worry these positions are open to all students interested in volunteering. If you would like more information about the opportunities available please contact Suzzi on s.garnett@leeds.ac.uk or 0113 343 1544.