Sporting Equals Associate Members Black History Month Blog Series: Sturridge Football Academy CIC

As part of Black History Month we will be spotlighting today Sturridge Football Academy CIC! We will highlight the work of this community organisation which delivers and drives engagement in sport and physical activity to the Black community and more!

1. What is the name of your organisation and how long have you been running for? 
Sturridge Football Academy CIC 
2. Where is your organisation based? 
Walsall, West Midlands
3. What have been the challenges you have faced in supporting the physical health and wellbeing needs of the Black community in your area? E.g. lack of resources, lack of publicity of your services and projects, a general disengagement etc. 
Many parents are not able to afford travel costs or cannot transport their children/young people which makes it very difficult for the young people to take part in activities and sometimes results in staff members having to provide transport. 
Young people in the Black community are not as open regarding struggles, concerns or thoughts on their physical health and wellbeing. They tend to be very resilient and very quick to say that they are fine rather than admitting that they are struggling in particular areas. Their confidence levels, in our experience from our service users, are generally low and extra resources are needed in order to be able to take the time that is needed to really help make a positive difference in their lives.
4. What have been the successes you have felt and seen in supporting the physical health and wellbeing needs of the Black community in your area? 
Running a Football Academy that provides a Football Development and Education Programme allows us to work with our young people more comprehensively. Through the hard work that we have put in, we have seen our students progress to playing football at higher levels not only in the local area but also in America and Spain.
As well as achieving a 100% pass rate in our Level 3 Diploma in Sport and Physical Activity during the 2020-2021 academic year (despite the pandemic and the national lockdown), 7 of our students gained places at 3 different Universities where they are studying degrees in Physiotherapy, Sports and Exercise Therapy and Sports Coaching.  We raised aspirations and allowed our young people to believe and achieve.  
5. If you were to name a Black sporting role model who would you pick and why? 
Our biggest inspiration is Daniel Sturridge who, through his hard work and dedication was able to earn a position playing at the highest levels of football. He has unfortunately been plagued with injuries which followed a number of disappointments and setbacks, yet he has never given up and still strives to be the best that he can be.
6. Do you feel representation of Black athletes in elite sports make a difference to on the ground delivery? Do young people and the wider community feel more inspired and why? 
Absolutely! Young people will always take inspiration from those who they see around them and even more so if those who they are seeing look like them and are people who they feel that they can relate to. This then allows them to realise that their dreams can become a reality. 

This makes a positive difference in the delivery of sporting activities as it will increase participation levels and those participants will be more dedicated, taking the sport more seriously, working harder and achieving higher levels of ability.
Find out more about Sporting Equals' Associate Members here.