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Friendships through football: Creating a community in Southampton

Sports clubs are just one of the ways Dimensions helps the people they support get active and make new friends.

Kicking Things Off

On a cold and icy day back in January, football training kicked off at Totton Football Club. But it wasn’t Totton FC players on the pitch. It was a group of people supported by Dimensions.

Today, around 18 people attend the weekly training sessions. Whatever the weather – rain, wind, snow or even a rare spot of sunshine – the budding footballers are keen to get on the pitch.

Gillian Cousins, Locality Manager for Outreach Southampton, organised the sessions and has been given the title of ‘Director of Football’ by the group.

“A lot of the people we support are football fans, so there was a real demand for it,” says Gillian. “My team and I reached out to Totton FC and the rest is history. We even had our first charity match back in May.”

Creating a Community

A big benefit of the training sessions is the sense of community they create. Ian Knight, Assistant Locality Manager and affectionately known as ‘Coach’, has seen several friendships forming. Ian says

“You can feel the camaraderie on the way when we pick them up for training. And they’re just so passionate – we offered to give them a break when the bad weather hits in winter, but they want to keep playing!”

Gillian has found ways to keep the community thriving off the pitch too.

The group watches televised football matches together and earlier this year they were given the opportunity to meet ex-footballer Darren Anderton. While Darren has played for England, one team member is a huge Portsmouth FC fan, so he was more interested in Darren’s time spent playing for them!

Future Fixtures

In May, the team played an eleven a side charity game against staff to raise funds for use of the training pitch. The staff only just came out on top with a final score of 5 – 3. In August, the team will be competing in a mini tournament against other care companies, but the fun doesn’t stop there. Gillian and Ian have planned an end of season award ceremony and are raising money for the team to design their own kit. Plus, some of the group are stewarding Totton FC games and others are exploring formal coaching qualifications.

“We’re doing a lot of fundraising to keep the training sessions going and Totton FC have been so supportive,” says Ian.

By Bryony Cato, Volunteer Storyteller