We recently met with the President of Football Beyond Borders Southampton, Adnan Bakir, to find out more about the fantastic projects the society run and what they’ve been working on since their launch last year. Football Beyond Borders is an education charity with a core programme based in London. Their aim is to support and develop young people (aged 8 – 19) in the local community who may be from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is achieved ‘on and off the pitch’ through the power of football but also through mentoring sessions, to help young people achieve their goals and make their voices heard. Adnan says, “We want to show teenagers a different way to life, something other than joining gangs and getting involved with crime”.

Football Beyond Borders Southampton tackles this important task through a variety of activities and workshops. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, our society runs football sessions at the YMCA on Graham Road. Adnan reflected that their Friday sessions are the busiest, with an estimated 50 young people attending every week; “we wanted to make sure there was something for them to do on a Friday, after school is finished for the week”.

Games of football are run alongside Youth Engagement Sessions, monthly workshops and a new Young Leaders Programme. Their most recent workshop looked at hate crime: how to spot it and get help. The next workshop focuses on applying to Higher Education, as many attendees know the society is led by students currently at university and often ask for advice.

It’s not all about football though; the society also hosts a radio show every Monday on community radio station Unity 101. Adnan comments: “this is a great way not only to develop young people’s communication skills but also to tell the community about the projects we’re running”. Many of the society’s members get involved due to their interest in music, helping young people develop their EPs and mixtapes. Adnan says: “it’s a way for them to voice their struggles, through music”.

We asked Adnan why he first decided to get involved with Football Beyond Borders. He explained how he attended the London Football Beyond Borders programme when he was younger: “I know what it’s like and I know how it can develop someone. The main point of Football Beyond Borders is giving back to the community. I thought if a branch of Football Beyond Borders was set up here, it could really make a difference in Southampton”.

The society currently works within youth and community centres, but they would love to extend to working directly with local schools, running after school sessions to support young people not only through sport but their education, too. As Adnan is a Medic student, he will be at Southampton for another five years, as will Vice-President, Anoir Lagzouli, a fellow Medic student, “hopefully during that time we can help take Football Beyond Borders to where we would like it to be”.

Want to get involved? The society is always keen for new members to join! All members are provided with training and are often invited to showcases and events with the London Football Beyond Borders team. Last year the society ran the Southampton Half Marathon, fundraising £500 in the process, which funded the football pitch their sessions are now held on.

Thanks to Adnan for coming to meet us and we wish Football Beyond Borders Southampton the best of luck with their ongoing work and brilliant projects. You can get in touch via their Facebook page.

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