STREETSPORT

On a floodlit astroturf pitch in Aberdeen, the excited shouts of youngsters playing football are one sign of Streetsport’s positive effect on the local community.

But there is even more tangible proof of its remarkable impact in police figures which show tumbling levels of antisocial behaviour and youth violence.

Streetsport – set-up by Mark Williams in 2015 with the help of funding from the Denis Law Legacy Trust – has transformed the lives of the 16,000 people who now regularly participate.

Not just that, it has also shown the effect sport can have on an entire community.

Using sport as a means of touching the hardest to reach sections of society, Streetsport has been widely commended, not just by youth organisations in the Granite City but also by the police.

And if anyone required evidence of the scheme’s success they only have to look at the police’s own official figures.

Levels of youth-related violence are now at an all-time low in the city, while calls to the fire brigade on the busiest night of the year – November 5 – also dropped to previously unseen levels last year.

“I guess where this programme is completely different is the fact that we can prove it’s working,” says Mark.

“There’s real tangible evidence of its impact.” Mark has created specific programmes around the motion of “prevention, intervention and diversionary activities”. Street sports offered include tennis, dance and football.

A corner of Aberdeen that was once a no-go area is now also Scotland’s first unbookable astroturf football pitch – allowing youngsters constant access to a playing surface and encouraging interaction between groups to ensure that matches can take place.

“This has been perhaps the most important element of the project,” says Mark, who received a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service from Prince Harry.

“You see countless astroturf pitches which kids can only peer through the gates and look at because it’s fully booked by corporate clients paying upwards of £100 an hour.

“It’s almost like a lot of these pitches are there to tease those who would benefit most from them but can’t afford them.

“The unbookable pitch is the exact opposite – it has made football accessible to kids 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

It has been completely revolutionary.”

 

So many people complain that kids don’t play outside any more, and that there’s nothing for them to do, leading to boredom and antiosocial behaviour. Streetsport is the perfect antidote to that, the unbookable pitch is a stroke of genius and its impact is undeniable.Pride of Sport judges

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