Initiative like no other

If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself. – Henry Ford

It’s that time of year again when we reflect on another unforgettable summer of football and Friday marked the end of another successful three weeks of Kelston Road Football.
By Chipp Goverd
For those of you that haven’t a clue what Kelston Road Football is then here’s a brief overview.
Kelston Road Football was a football initiative set up by Joe Ryan back in 2011. It was set up in a challenging area in Keynsham (Bristol outskirts). An area that was notoriously troubled with a debilitated community. I will post a video below explaining what the Kelston Road initiative is:

The initiative is now four years old and thriving after attracting over 90 kids in 2014 which is remarkable when you consider the location of the project. This included a mixture of ages, abilities, genders and backgrounds. The project started off with an overall turnout of 15-20 kids.
Why is over 90 kids so impressive? Over the years though many kids and coaches have left Kelston to explore different paths and venture onto bigger and better things. During that time the initiative has still managed to grow with 15 different coaches all volunteering and getting involved within the initiative. With an additional six guest coaches from the Somerset FA, Bristol Rovers and the national FA all giving up their time to put on sessions.
The initiative has also put on successful tournaments, fun days and recently engaged in a charity football match with Waitrose in which all the proceeds go towards the Kelston Road Football initiative. The match provided opportunities for Kelston players Michael Frison (15) and Lewis Baker (15) to referee the match. An opportunity which both lads seized and impressed.
Kelston Road Football 2014
Group shot of the children enjoying themselves
One of the impressive elements about Kelston though is how it is an initiative that is run by young people for young people. A tradition which Kelston has been built upon:
  • This is a element that is set to continue in future years with young leaders Keynsham Town FC gaining experience through the initiative.
  • This then escalates into young leaders receiving the opportunity to coach regularly at Keynsham Town FC to built on their experience.
  • This can lead to young leaders receiving the opportunity to sit their Level 1 coaching badge in football and hopefully  running Kelston in future years.
This summer a number a Kelston players have expressed interest in getting more involved in the coaching/refereeing side of football. In theory they may get the opportunity to carry on an initiative that they have had experience participating in. This is helping them develop as leaders and as fascinating people.
Kelston has also created links with the local county FA with numerous coaches becoming involved within the FA’s Football Futures programme and the Somerset FA Youth Council which now includes 5 Kelston members. This has provided a clear and positive pathway for any kids to keep involved within football in different capacity whether it be a coach, player, referee, organiser amongst many other possible careers within football.
Being a Kelston coach does come with it’s fair-share of challenges such as dealing with minor conflicts between players, parents and difficult weather conditions all testing factors that are part of being a coach. The positives do outweigh the negatives though as a coach.
I got a few words from two Somerset FA Youth council coaches on Kelston this week…
“We have a team that is committed to improving people. Whether it’s on or off the pitch, the coaches all work hard to ensure everyone enjoys themselves, gets on well with others and ultimately leaves a better person than they came no matter who they are. 
If you have a team who are committed, you can develop and see how they improve other vital skills along the way” 
From a coaching perspective I feel I have improved confidence wise and awareness. I have improved in skills that interchange with coaching but not through coaching itself.”
I’ve seen a massive change in players, with many that got involved scarcely now being vital cogs within sessions and being brave trying new skills on the pitch, instead of being nervous. 
Players attitudes off the pitch also, with most behaving the whole time and getting on with others involved.
Watching young people develop into mature adults but keeping imagination and a childlike sense whilst working with the players creates the perfect mix for everyone to enjoy and develop throughout  Kelston”
–  Louis Ryan,18, Kelston Coach

Make no mistake, the players within the Kelston Road initiative are just as vital as the coaches. They are the ones that make the initiative a success. Many kids have come and gone but they have shown surprising enthusiasm about creating new friendships with people that they may not necessarily interact with through sport. The kids contribute to making the initiative a positive and enjoyable atmosphere upon which the initiative has become recognisable for.

Making friends and acquaintances through the initiative the kids have helped improve the community massively. Since Kelston Road Football started the crime-rate in the surrounding area during the summer has been reduced by upto 50%. This is down to improved relationships within the community and the reduced levels of anti-sociable behaviour.

Kelston Road Football
Nick and Joe planning for the future
I also spoke to a Bristol Rovers coach and Chairman of the Somerset FA Youth council who had this to say.
“I first heard of Kelston Rd over a year ago from many people in the County. They spoke highly of the initiative as it has had a huge impact on children and young people within the local community. When I turned up all of the coaches, volunteers and Young Leaders were very welcoming to which I would describe like a ‘family’. Kelston Rd will now be part of Somerset FA Youth Councils football family and I hope other clubs and young leaders are inspired by this initiative.
Having numerous members of the Youth Council involved in such a project like Kelston Rd, I believe is inspiring. There has been a huge Young Persons influence within football and having a project for Young People which is delivered by Young People can only inspire the next generation. I’m extremely pleased that we have managed to bridge a gap between projects like Kelston and the Youth Council.
I think Kelston Rd is great! Having mash up sessions where children of a variety of ages can just turn up and play football with their friends can be priceless.
Kelston Rd brings the local community together through football whilst keeping children off the streets and committing crimes.”

Kieron Broad, 24, Coach

Kelston Road Football
Getting ready to join in


So that’s it. Another Kelston summer has flown by with many memories shared, created and kept. On a brief personnel note, I’d like to say a massive thank you to all players that have come to Kelston over the last four years. I’d like to think that I’ve shared a memory or two with each and every player and that I have many more to come. All the players have been exceptional with whatever task/challenge I’ve placed down infront of you and have taught me a great amount. I’d like to think that they’ve still lessons to teach me for years to come.

I would also like to say a massive thank you to all the coaches over the last four years. I’ve also learnt a huge deal off you guys throughout Kelston. So I thank you for putting up with my clumsy mishaps or dodgy jokes and hope to see you all again next year.

Thank you all for dedicating your time and effort towards Kelston.

Thanks for sharing your experiences Chipp, looking forward to more articles from you in the coming season!

More of Chipp’s work can be found on his own blog site

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