By happy coincidence I found myself in the same seminar in Birmingham today as Ross Walker and Carrie Perkins from Teachsport – looks like their website isn’t quite finished yet but you’ll get the idea.
I have seem to be making a habit of meeting Lewisham people in Birmingham having run into Cllr Morris at the station there a few months ago.
Ross and Carrie and I were both there as part of a day for organisations who had (or are hoping to get) Futurebuilders loans. Futurebuilders put these days on to allow the organisations they invest in to network and gain skills that traditionally haven’t been strong parts of the Third Sector ethos; today focusing on improving our marketing and communications skills.
So in networking with Ross and Carrie it soon became very evident that we know many of the same people. In particular Dennis Hunter who was a senior manager in the youth service and until recently was the Young Mayor’s enforcer. I have a great deal of time for Dennis, so to hear that he was engaged with Teachsport gave me a great deal of confidence in their abilities.
Ross is also the district development officer for the Kent Cricket Board (and an assistant coach with the Finnish national team – just the fact they have a side makes me pleased), which led us to talk about the opportunities for young cricketers in the borough (a subject close to my six year old son’s heart as an aspiring leg-spinner in search of a game). It turns out there are leagues and coaching at St Dunstan’s on Saturday mornings.
I also got to hear about the developmental work that Teachsport have done with kids from more troubled backgrounds than I hope my sons have as they grow up. One young man (now 18 years old) they talked about hasn’t been in school since he was 14, but since working with them has gained a number of coaching qualifications, and is using them to turn his life around. But it remains a struggle for him and he has friends and family who have been affected by gang violence in the borough, and the pull of that sub-culture is a difficult one to break by all accounts.
Carrie told me that they are looking to do more work in Lewisham parks – which sounds like a good idea to me, hint, hint – and trying to secure their current headquarters – a playing field in Catford. I also found out they have 60 coaches working for them and that they work across South East London.
All in all they sound like a very good thing for the borough, and I’m crossing my fingers that they get their hands on whatever money they need from Futurebuilders and that they have a sympathetic hearing from the council and Playing Fields Association.