This season our On Route Foyer’s fledgling footie team made it to the semi finals of their first competition.

Reports from the sideline tell us it could’ve gone even better at the Wellbeing League Cup: “Slight controversy as a ‘phantom’ goal took it to a penalty shoot out which they then lost 4-3.

It had been long journey started by steps from Helen O’Neill, a staff member who is a self confessed “football fanatic”.  She first got a scratch team together a year ago to take part in a local tournament. (listen to her interview here)

“we were just a bunch of scruffs playing on grass in trainers, turned up in street clothes, giving 100% played their hearts out”

But another team spotted that passion and decided to help out. Withymoor Colts raised the money to pay for FA affiliation, and provided some training gear and the match kit.

From there Helen started to build new connections through Atlantic House and Dudley  Mind and the team joined the Wellbeing League.  It’s supported with money and space by the Albion Foundation and Birmingham County FA.

Dena Rock

Dena Rock has been with us at the Foyer since January. (Listen to her here) Her first experience of the league had been a rain drenched mini tournament a couple of weeks ago. “I didn’t want to get involved at first, I stood on the sideline”.  But when she played..

“I don’t like to big myself up – I scored four”

Helen says the benefits are widespread:

“The game connects us into the community. We always say we’re not playing to win, to be the best but because there’s so much to be gained form being part of a team and out in the fresh air.  Yes sport isn’t for everybody, but it isn’t about whether you are brilliant at football, be part of a team, get out on the pitch and see how it feels.”

“When you’re in the moment you’re not worrying that you’ve got no food in the fridge, for that time you can focus on the game”

a picture of helen O'Neill and Canel Pearce standing side by side

Staff members Helen O’Neill and Canel Pearce have been supporting the team

And Dena explains that as a team they need to recognise who the opposition is:

“You have to learn to give the opposition a chance as well, we have to learn to let them have a go and understand they may have disabilities are not able to do what we can”

 The football team is an opportunity for some to play to their strengths  (Dena does love sport, she got an A* for it.) and for others to simply play can be a springboard to  find out about your strengths.