3-0 down in the first FBB Wanderers match ever, it seemed like a long season was on the horizon. We knew it was never going to be easy. The idea was to create an 11-a-side men’s football team made up of teenagers from South London who had never been given the opportunity to play regular structured football, supported by teammates who were a decade older than them and had largely stopped playing since leaving university. These players would learn to relate to one another both on and off the pitch, representing the diversity of London communities, showing unity to learn from and respect one another.
A combination of lacking tactical game related nous and match fitness respectively seemed to be letting us down. We ended up losing the game four-two, a commendable score line given the poor start and the team haven’t looked back since. Having decided not to enter a league in our first season, we have played a series of friendlies against any team that has offered to play us. This has seen matches played against a wide variety of opposition from old boys clubs like Alleyn’s and SWAG to the trade union UNISON, fellow youth clubs such as the St Matthew’s Project and even a match against SOAS University, which is home to where FBB was founded. With an average age of under 20 years old for the squad, it was always likely to be a challenge making the transition to men’s football. However the players have coped admirably and arrived in 2015 with a respectable record in our 12 matches so far with 6 wins, 2 draws and 4 defeats.
44 players have turned out for the side which highlights the pool of players which we have to draw on but also hints towards the need for us to hone in on a more regular squad as we become more established as a team. Particular mention to Nahtel Adenyini (who at 16 years of age has a promising future in the game) with 7 goals, Alex Skinner has been a near ever present in the midfield and has scored 6 goals and important contributions from Jose Gouveia, Brandom Lim, Wens Kuwa and Solomon Akinbode who are all under 18 and have coped well with the step up to men’s football. It has been particularly pleasing to see Nahtel and Wens progress to our parent club, Wanderers FC 1st XI.
It has been great to witness the formation of a new team and the friendships that have been established between people from such different backgrounds. These differences of race, class and age have been broken down through the great equaliser, that of football. With the youngest player at 16 and the oldest at 37, contrasting styles of play and football have been displayed as the different footballing generations have learnt to adapt to one another! Most pleasing of all has been the number of teams who have asked for a repeat match later in the season because they have enjoyed playing against us, and referees regularly commenting on how respectful we are as a team.
Aside from the football, we have begun a mentoring scheme which sees the younger players pair up with older members of the team or FBB volunteers. The idea is to support them with different aspects of their personal development including in education, finding work and any family issues that may arise. There are also plans to develop a community action team, which will provide the platform for the young people to engage with their local community and campaign for more local sporting provisions.
If you would like to donate to support the running costs of the team, such as pitch hire and travel, please donate here: bit.do/fbbdonate
If you would like to get involved with the team, through playing or offering to mentor or arrange a match against the side please contact Jasper Kain: firstname.lastname@example.org