Champions League winner will be an ambassador for the group
Liverpool and Scotland superstar Andy Robertson has been unveiled as a new ambassador for Street Soccer Scotland.
The organisation – a former Scottish charity of the year - helps people from socially disadvantaged backgrounds through football.
It was set up in 2009 to support people who have experienced homelessness, mental health, addiction and long-term unemployment by creating a community who help each other make positive changes in their lives through their united love of the beautiful game.
The Liverpool defender and Scotland captain joins the legendary former Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, who became the charity’s first ambassador in 2010.
Speaking about his ambassadorship, Robertson said: “The positive influence football has on many of our lives should not be underestimated, especially during these difficult times. I’ve seen first-hand the amazing work that Street Soccer Scotland is doing to help those in need and it’s an honour to be an ambassador for an incredible charity that is playing a significant role in not only my hometown of Glasgow but across the whole country.”
As part of his involvement, Andy will be visiting players to hear more about the projects that are taking place, providing counsel and offering coaching and life advice to younger players and participants in the programmes.
“Whether you’re struggling financially or battling with your mental health or an addiction, it’s so important to know there is help out there,” he added. “I hope to shine a light on the vital services that Street Soccer Scotland is doing to help people day in, day out, and help as many people as I can through the power of football.”
David Duke, founder and CEO of Street Soccer Scotland, believes the involvement of the English Premier League and UEFA Champions League winner will have a significant impact on the those seeking to overcome personal barriers.
“We are delighted to welcome Andy to the Street Soccer family. I’ve worked with him a lot over the last few months - he is a good guy with a big heart. He’s always looking for ways to get involved in the community and give back to those who need it the most, so it’s brilliant to officially have him on board in an ambassador role.”
Over the last decade, Street Soccer Scotland has helped more than 10,000 people overcome personal barriers through football-themed training and personal development opportunities for socially disadvantaged groups across Scotland.
As Covid-19 brought the country to a standstill, the charity adapted their ways of working by partnering with essential services including food hubs and providing players with mobile phones to ensure they could maintain conversation while safely isolating at home.
David added: “Before lockdown, we were delivering over 40 weekly programmes in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen. When the restrictions were announced, we knew the devastating impact this could have on our players without the social interaction they were getting through football, especially on their mental health, so we assessed what we could do to make sure they were safe, secure, healthy and connected.
“We have a player-first approach – their wellbeing is at the heart of everything we do. We set up a hardship fund so if there was something that one of our players desperately needed, we could help them as best we can. We sent them regular food deliveries and gave them smartphones that were loaded with data so we could host Zoom calls and invite them to WhatsApp groups, as well as meeting up for socially distanced walks whenever we could.”
Latest statistics from the not-for profit organisation revealed that 94% of players feel they have a more positive attitude and a brighter outlook in life after attending Street Soccer Scotland sessions. In addition, 85% of players who had been in prison prior to joining are now no longer involved in the system, and 61% of players take part in Street Soccer Scotland activities more than once a week.