I suppose it’s that time of year when it’s traditional to crank out the charity Christmas single, the appeal, and go carol singing round the neighbourhood to raise money for the poor and needy, and I’m never one to be left out! In the immortal words of Smashie and Nicey, “I do a lot of work for Charity, but I don’t like to talk about it mate!” Since 2003 I’ve been involved with the Street League, not because I’m a lover of football (nothing could be further from the truth, actually), but because it’s such an effective organisation. In a nutshell the charity uses the structure of regular football training, formal teams, and a league system with bi-annual cup competitions, as a hook to get people who are otherwise disenfranchised back into society and into a position where they can take control of their lives. For a more visual description, try this:
I got involved after Men’s Fitness magazine sent me to photograph one of the people who’d been helped by the scheme way back in March 2003 for a feature on “Fitness Changed my life”. I was so impressed with what the Street league were doing that I offered my services should they need them in future, and now 5 1/2 years later I’m still shooting events, training sessions, cup competitions and anything else they may need. Most recently I was shooting their bi-annual cup and plate at Leyton Orient:
The stills in the video are mine (unedited – I’d shot 700+ frames, and was too lazy to do a really polished job on them all – sorry about that), although all the camerawork, sound editing and so on is by the very capable Jack. There was a similar video on youtube from when the street leaguers took part in the Tackle Africa Football Marathon in midsummer, but since Jack used the Gladiator soundtrack it seems to have been taken down!
I was slightly disappointed to notice at the recent cup competition that very few of the teams I was familiar with were taking part, particularly Southwark Rangers, who I always considered my “home” side. On asking about this, it was explained to me that once the teams have fulfilled their role in getting people into work, off the streets, into college, and generally up to the next rung of the ladder in their lives, then they disband and new ones are formed. Southwark Rangers, for example, are no longer in action because pretty much everyone involved is now either in full time education, or working. So definitely a big silver lining to the cloud of not seeing them play anymore!
One last video, of last years Cup and Plate competition at the Beckham Academy in Greenwich. Watch particularly for the triumphant ending, as not only will you see my elbows (wow!) but you’ll see Southwark Rangers (in green) winning the Cup, the league, as well as Anwar taking home the player of the year (who also won the penalty shoot out):
And last, but by no means least, click here if you’ve got some spare cash and would like to donate!