May 17, 2013
He may be used to giving directions to Premier League stars like Gareth Bale and Emmanuel Adebayor, but this week Tottenham Hotspur Head Coach Andre Villas Boas was leading a very different group of football lovers.
Andre, a Laureus Ambassador, visited Street League, the charity which uses football to tackle youth unemployment, in the King’s Cross area of London where he led a special training session for the project members, even running some of his Spurs team’s favourite training exercises in the process.
But like all Laureus-supported charity sport projects, it’s not about the sport alone.
Andre took time to chat with the participants, aged 16 to 25, about what it means to be a great leader, and also to find out more about how they are bettering their lives through Street League at a time of such high youth unemployment.
Andre said: “All of them gave me an example of the difficulties they’ve been through and the opportunity which arises for them now. We want to support these people who are going through such difficulties and are trying to make the most out of this academy on their way to employment."
Participants at the project come from a range of backgrounds ranging from unemployment to homelessness, substance misuse to youth offending.
The eight-week Street League Academy programme, which is supported by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, delivers employability and life skills, with three out of every four graduates going on to get a job or return to education and training.
The charity is currently based across five cities, and will open shortly in Liverpool and Nottingham. It will be in 12 UK cities by the end of 2014.
Andre said: “The numbers are absolutely staggering - 76% of the graduates go on to further education training or directly into employment.
“To be able to pick up kids from prisons, job centres, people that are in the most difficult situations that want that breakthrough moment in their life but for some reason or the other they can’t get it. … it’s great to see that they are developing into other cities over the next years and that Laureus are supporting them in this."
But with the English Premier League season coming to an end this weekend, and his Spurs team fighting til the last for a priceless Champions League spot, Laureus.com had to ask about his thoughts on the season as a whole.
“We have achieved now the same points as last season and we can go on to 72 points which would be a record for the Premier League for the club,” Andre said. “Of all the last 20 years past in the Premier League that would have been enough for us to make that Champions League spot. The problem in the Premier League is that the competition now goes up a level and we are we are trying to make sure that if we don’t make it this time, we make it for the future.”