The Ghetto Boyz
The Ghetto Boyz are part of a project we have been supporting for over four years… and it involves using football to help boys who are on the road [many already way down it..] to crime, abuse and prison.
Our huge and continuing, success has been Happy; he was an unemployed football enthusiast who gradually started to tempt many of the most feral and dangerous boys to football practice. Over the months they became disciplined and much more engaged with their communities. All of those original boys were involved in crime of some sort – most have been abused themselves - are now either in fulltime education or have undertaken vocational training and are now in jobs.
Happy has gone on, with our support, to train and qualify as a Social Auxiliary Worker and is now employed by the local social services cycling the rutted tracks helping many other vulnerable people. He continues to train the Ghetto Boyz [Mark 3] at evenings and weekends and we continue to support him in his endeavours. He is a true star.
Happy and his certificate
As for the Ghetto Boyz, well each group that I have met have had such shocking lives, been through such terrible experiences and been involved in such horrible stuff that even on a hot sunny day I would go a long way to avoid them on the streets …. yet, and yet …. with time, attention, lots of support and huge encouragement, plus learning discipline, care for each other through football these boys can and do transform their lives. I am so impressed with their efforts and success in turning their lives around.
I visited Ghetto Boyz 3 in the spring of 2010 and their histories shock me to the core – what they have experienced and suffered and been through no child should endure; prior to this programme they were excluded from school and [mostly] roaming in gangs terrorising others, most of them are HIV+ with no medication and many have already been involved in rape. Previous Ghetto Boyz now working with EMHC, who oversee this project, are coaches and mentors for the boys, and screen all the boys for the programme often picking the worst and most violated of boys. These boys are all between 12 years and 18 years old and their backgrounds really make your heart break, yet without this programme they will go on to terrorise and abuse other children and adults and end up in prisons – at least one I know shot someone already, and several have raped. We all know that if we don’t try to deflect them NOW, before much longer they will be so firmly entrenched in their lives that it will be well-nigh impossible to redirect them.
The Ghetto Boyz (Mark 3)
But these boys have such a willingness to learn and take a different path, and so with regular football training, life skills courses, literacy and numeracy help and persistent encouragement all but 5 of the current cohort will go back to education in the autumn. The remaining 5 will attend tertiary courses which we will fund, and all will keep playing football.
We are helped to support these boys by Karen Gumbs who gathers up all the second hand kit, plus some from Slough Town Football Supporters Trust, and DHL very kindly send the large boxes to SA as part of their charitable work. To date we have helped to divert over 80 boys from lives of crime and prison, and all of their potential victims. We really firmly believe that part of breaking the cycle of abuse is to stop the abused becoming the abusers.
Pride in his new football bib