LONDON - May 16, 2012
The sun made a rare but perfectly timed appearance in central London today as Boxing legend Lennox Lewis and football great turned respected pundit Alan Hansen visited the Laureus-supported Street League project.
At a time when youth unemployment remains a widespread concern to young adults battling for their futures in a time of recession, the special guest Laureus supporters were keen to learn how the project is actively helping get people into the workplace.
Following an employability skills session in the classroom, just one of the many services Street League offers participants, Lewis and Hansen watched and even got involved in an energetic football training demonstration. It is, however, this double nature of sport and classroom based opportunities that is vital for the project’s work.
Weekly football sessions work to engage new participants who then pass through into what is called the Street League Academy. The Academy uses the theme of sport to help individuals progress towards employment, education, training and independence.
Lewis might be better known to many fighting his corner in the ring, and Hansen more familiar for his devastating analyses of Premier League defensive frailties, but both took time to tell the football lovers how beneficial sport had been to them throughout their lives as well.
Speaking to a very excited crowd at the Street League's north east London Academy near King’s Cross, Lennox said: “I used to fight all the time on the streets, but all of a sudden, when I took up boxing, can you believe what happened? I never fought on the street again.”
And Hansen, who played 434 times for English Premier League club Liverpool, made an inspiring reference to how lessons from sport can help in working life when he said: “The most important part of being in a team, is trust and reliability… it’s about you relying on me and me relying on you. And you’ll find as you go on in life it’s all about the ‘team’. That’s the most important thing football taught me.”
One very special youngster who met Lewis and Hansen today was Lamin Kolly, 24 (pictured below with Lewis and Hansen), who has successfully completed the Street League Academy programme.
Lamin has always had a passion for sport. However, despite completing a diploma in sports science following his time at school, like many young people during these tough economic times, he found himself out of work.
Speaking about how difficult he found this, he said: “When you’re in school, you always expect they’ll be something out there, but the reality hits you that the case is there isn’t, it’s disheartening.
“Having to sign on is not a nice feeling. I don’t want to be getting up every morning just to sign a bit of paper and then go home. You get bored just waking up, turning on the TV, doing nothing. You want to get out there, do something, whether working, volunteering or coming to something like Street League.”
And that is exactly what is happening for Lamin having recently secured a position with a security company for the London 2012 Olympics… in the Athlete’s Village.
About his new role, Lamin said: “I thought it would just be normal security like stewarding, but working in the Athletes Village hopefully even means I’ll meet some athletes. It’s an exciting moment for me.”
Laureus has supported Street League since 2009 and is now working with the project to expand its reach across the United Kingdom. Over the next three years, Street League will launch in three new cities with seed funding from Laureus to help a further 2500 young people find jobs and sustained education.
About the ongoing work, Street League National Development Director Paul Evans told Laureus.com: “We are hoping to be in 12 cities by 2014… helping give work placement opportunities and the experience and skills needed to get into that first interview, blitz that first interview and get that job.
“There have been many challenges over the past few years, but hopefully we’re helping solve some of them.”