Chris Smalling

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Manchester United footballer - Currently playing at AS Roma

Chris Smalling

The Manchester United and England International footballer became our patron in February 2019. He relates to our mission through his own journey. He lost his father when he was 5 and was brought up in a single parent family. He played non-league from 14-18 years old and had a place to study at university before signing for Fulham at the age of 18. He has a real passion to help young people achieve their potential and values the power of education to support them. He has been integral in supporting our expansion to the North West of England. This has included partnering with us on an educational scheme of work called the Good Life which explores how to become a more conscientious and caring person. 

“FBB is changing lives – changing mentality and belief through engaging and effective learning. We are living in a society which pigeon holes your ‘am I good enough’ mentality to a restrictive curriculum of English, Maths and Science. Football Beyond Borders opens up a young person’s landscape to creative industries and learning, establishing new beliefs and an ability to succeed.

I was drawn to FBB because I could see how committed their staff were and their ability to relate to kids, whatever background they come from. It gives young people a dream that I think when you are in school doesn’t seem possible. They instil belief in young people and make them realise that if you have a dream you should follow it.

I am excited to be in a position to help the organisation expand and establish itself in the North West, having witnessed the difference it has made to the lives of young people in the South. Manchester has been my home for the last 9 years and the patronage offers me the opportunity to give back to those that have given me so much throughout my career at Manchester United.”

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Patron

Troy Townsend

Troy Townsend is the Education Manager for the organisation Kick it Out. He leads on their Equality Inspires Programme in partnership with the Premier League. Delivering educational workshops around equality and life skills to staff, players and parents of the Premier League and English Football League Academies. He also leads on Kick It Out’s successful Raise Your Game series, which looks to address gaps in representation across all areas of the game, through mentoring events. He is one of the leading voices in the country challenging the injustices that continue to exist within grassroots football.

Troy is a judge for the London Football Awards and The FA Respect Awards. He was also named on Football’s Blacklist in 2014 and 2017 which celebrates the Caribbean and African achievement in the British game and became one of the FA’S 150 Grassroots Heroes.

“I believe in everything FBB does to help, support and empower our young people, in a period of time in society that they are too easily judged. I have continued to value the impact of young people, so becoming a patron, is a very proud moment for me. As a former teacher, I understand the impact of positive role models on the lives of vulnerable young people. Young people cry out for guidance, someone to believe in them and opportunities to show off their personalities. FBB’S work is all that and so much more. They are developing our next generation of young leaders, who can walk tall in today’s world.

My hopes for FBB are to support them to continue having an impact. If I can help FBB get more exposure, support more young people from different communities, provide more opportunities then I will do just that. If we believe in young people, we should do all that we can to help.”

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Sky Sports Pundit, Presenter, and Author

Guillem Ballague

Guillem Balague has been a key fixture in Sky Sports’ coverage of Spanish football for 20 years, appearing weekly on Revista de La Liga, as well as regular pundit at the weekend. In the summer of 2018 he moved to BBC Sport where he is presenting a weekly Radio5Live show on European football, has a regular show where he interviews the top names in football (Pep Guardiola was the first one), and he writes a blog and creates content for the broadcaster (Champions League and Premier League coverage). He is also the UK Correspondent for AS, the Madrid-based Spanish sports newspaper and a regular contributor to El Partidazo (COPE), the biggest football radio show in Spain, plus he writes a regular column on Goal.com.

“During my four year association with them I have seen the charity grow at an amazing rate. Based in and operating from London, they have established a relationship with a number of schools and have helped numerous children to discover talents and abilities that they never knew they had. To see how they use the power of the “beautiful game” to instil basic social and life skills in the kids; to see how their confidence and self esteem grows; to witness their growth into mature and active members of their communities (many continue to work with the charity in later years, helping to coach and encourage the junior children) makes me very proud and truly humbled to have been fortunate enough to be their Patron.”

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Professional Ironman Triathlete and Public Speaker

John McAvoy

John McAvoy received a life sentence for armed robbery and was sent to Belmarsh Prison. He used sport to turn his life around in prison, breaking a World Record for rowing whilst in the prison gym. He has since gone on to become a professional Iron-Man triathlete. However it is his devotion to using his life lessons to inspire young people not to make the same mistakes that he did that draws him to FBB. He is a powerful advocate of the importance of providing young people with relatable role models within properly resourced youth centres. He is a prolific public speaker and provides regular guidance to our participants.

“Football Beyond Borders is an amazing organisation. They are driven by committed and motivated individuals who are determined to make a real difference. I have seen first-hand the powerful work they are doing to change the lives of young people. They believe in young people and give them the support network and guidance to achieve their potential.”

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