Blog from our new Chair, Maureen McGonigle

It is always a challenge finding enough money to keep an organisation thriving and in many cases the more success you have as an organisation, the more money it costs you.  So one of the ideas is to appeal to the great Scottish public to support an awards dinner and if you’re lucky get a top speaker along who will ensure your tickets sales go through the roof.

This was the case last week as Street Soccer Scotland ran their first Gala Dinner in Glasgow with a line-up you couldn’t ignore!  The star attraction was Sir Alex Ferguson and he was interviewed on stage by Hazel Irvine, the well-loved sports journalist, who has risen through the ranks of TV broadcasting to become one of the UK’s most knowledgeable presenters.  Adding to the night was the Liverpudlian comedian John Bishop, Scotland’s Gary Tank Commander, Stevie McCrorie previous The Voice winner and Peter Martin, football pundit and broadcaster.

Street Soccer Scotland is a social enterprise which uses football inspired training and personal development as a medium to empower people who are affected by social exclusion, to make positive changes in their lives.  They ultimately believe that sport provides opportunity to participate in life, tackle social exclusion as well as providing an opportunity for real impactful social change.

With over 550 attending the night and with a lot of their own people helping out on the night, Street Soccer raised the amazing sum of £140,000 which I am sure, will go some way to ensuring the good works continues.

Street Soccer Scotland are not alone in using sport as a ‘hook’ to engage with people who have, through no fault of their own, moved away from mainstream education, work and in fact, life.

Scottish Sports Futures, to which I have recently been appointed as chair, engage with young people throughout Scotland to stimulate interest and engage with them at a time in their lives where they have come disengaged from friends, family and any real support systems that they had previously.

SSF use the power of sport to inspire young people to make positive lifestyle choices and with over 70 qualified coaches and 200 volunteers they provide direct delivery and training that maximises the impact of physical activity, bringing youth work and sport together.  This group includes young volunteers, mentors, ambassadors and youth panel members who collectively ensure the needs and desires of Scotland’s youth are at the heart of decision making.

There are a lot of challenges keeping an organisation of this magnitude afloat and Pam Hunter, the Chief Executive, who has recently taken over the role from Ian Reid OBE and founder of SSF, is looking at ways to increase their income stream to ensure a healthy future for the organisation.  If you are interested in hearing more about the work of SSF, either Pam or myself would be happy to meet for a chat and of course, a cuppa!

Disappointing to read about the case with Eni Aluko and the English FA.  Eni Aluko who has been involved in the England set-up from the age of 14, seems now to be out of favour and her career instead of ending on a high, has ended rather sadly with a case of alleged bullying and racism against the current England Manager, Mark Samson, played out in the public domain.  No matter the ins and outs of this situation, this young women must have sacrificed a lot in the early days to play football and represent her country and it is a sad way for her to finish her career.

The Scotland squad themselves have had a few recent announcements of players retiring from the game.  Long standing players, Leanne Ross, Iffy Dieke and Gemma Fay have decided to hang up their international boots.  With over 450 caps between them and a lot of experience, they will be missed.  I believe though it is the right time for them to move on and for Shelley Kerr, the Scotland Manager, to take this opportunity to build her team.  These three players along with many others, have paved the way to ensure that our future stars get a better opportunity in football without having to fight every step of the way.  Good luck to them all.