Football during lockdown: raising money for the kids of Streatham Academy FC
In November I met Hussein Mohamud Hussein at a memorial for victims of knifecrime in Kennington. Hussein founded and runs Streatham Academy FC, a youth football academy with many kids coming from London’s Somali community, who have a big presence in Streatham. I found his story inspiring and touching, and resolved to make a film about his work.
Despite the odds, Hussein has made an organisation which trains around 150 kids every weekend with very little funding or support from other organisations. Of course, like most community organisations, Streatham Academy’s training sessions have stopped since March, and that means that kids who normally thrive on playing football on the weekend are cooped up inside their homes with not much to do.
So Hussein resolved to raise money to help his kids keep practicing their skills at home. Hussein came to the UK as a child after his family fled the civil war in Somalia to a refugee camp in Ethiopia. Coming to the UK as a child refugee is hard for anybody, especially with the trauma of leaving a wartorn homeland behind. It’s especially hard to integrate if you don’t already speak English, but Hussein was able to meet and become friends with kids through football.
He tells me that back in Somalia, a lot of people still don’t consider sports to be a legitimate profession with a viable career. It’s seen by lots of people as a distraction from a more serious profession, but Hussein is now taking his skills as a trained football coach back to Somalia too, helping local clubs with equipment and organising football tournaments.
Back in 2010, Hussein and many of his friends were part of a sports club in Streatham which closed down because of austerity-driven cuts to local sports funding. Many of the young men he knew drifted into gang crime and drug dealing. Many of them went to prison or were murdered. In 2016, Hussein resolved to do something to address the violence he was witnessing and provide a platform for kids from his area to improve their football skills, or get into coaching if they wanted to.
What he’s achieved in building up Streatham Academy FC in 5 years is inspiring and remarkable, but he still experiences many hurdles. British Somalis still face a lot of institutionalised racism, and it’s not easy for small sports teams to apply for funding, rent pitches, and do all the other bureaucracy that is necessary for registered charities.
Despite this, Hussein is aiming to raise £10,000 to help buy smart footballs which the academy’s members can use to practice their football skills at home during the lockdown. With any money left over, he plans to provide meals to club members as well as older members of the community in Streatham. During Ramadan, many Muslim communities break their fast together in communal Iftar meals. At the moment this is impossible, of course, so Hussein plans to deliver meals to community members.
Initially Hussein was planning to do 20,000 pressups during Ramadan as a challenge for the fundraiser, but as he’s also fasting, he reduced the target to a more manageable 10,000 a day. You can keep up with his progress on Instagram to see how many he’s done so far. @streathamfc
Hussein told me that it was his ambition as a child to be the first Somali player to play in the Premier League. Now there are more visible athletes like Mo Farah in UK sport, but there still haven’t been any big name Somali players in English football. Although Hussein won’t be the person who breaks that barrier, his dream hasn’t died. He wants to be the coach who trains the first British Somali in the Premier League.
If you would like to help out the crowdfunding campaign, visit the page here: crowdfunder.co.uk/10k-pushups-for-youth-football
Streatham Academy usually train at Larkhall Park near Stockwell on weekends. If you want to find out more about their activities, visit their Facebook page: facebook.com/STREATHAMFOOTBALLCLUB