Every month the Brixton Bonus provides revenue for the Brixton Fund, our new micro-grants scheme in Brixton for projects looking to create employment, challenge injustice and create community benefit. We have recently finalised the first round of funding, so next year we will be telling you more about the groups we supported. But today, we’d like to introduce you to Afewee Training Academy – a local group who would be eligible for support from the Brixton Fund.
The Afewee Training Academy hosts football and boxing classes in the Brixton Recreation Centre, run by volunteers giving up their own time to run the academy. Originally started by Steadman Scott, a Brixton resident for 50 years, and fellow coach Tony Goldring. The team has since grown to include Peter Armstrong, Bobby Miltiadous and Laurie Cooper. B£ caught up with Steadman who told us a bit more about his story and founding Afewee.
“When I was released from prison in 1997 a friend of mine was working for Crystal Palace F. C. and asked me, “Do you want to come to one of the sessions?” I said yes because being a person with a criminal conviction I thought I wouldn’t be able to get a job – I had tried to get a job before I went prison and wasn’t very successful… But I wanted to see what these clubs were looking for, and at the same time use this opportunity to recreate myself, break away from my past. So I came to a session once, and ended up getting a part time job with Crystal Palace!”
“I realised since I got a good reputation working for Crystal Palace F. C. we should be able to rent a place at the Brixton Rec. And for the first two years me and my friend Tony paid out of our own pockets for it. During that time I was going to schools, working for Crystal Palace, and saying to the boys: we are doing extra football in Brixton Recreation Centre, you should come along. We continued to work with Crystal Palace until they were relegated.”
The Afewee Football Academy has since gone on to work with likes of Fulham and Arsenal, providing members of the Academy with the opportunity to prove themselves at professional clubs – and a number of its players have go on to play professionally. Five of its alumni have played for Premiership sides, and one – Nathaniel Clyne – plays for England. In addition, the Academy boasts 30 players in the professional game or in academies, including one in every league in the country and one in every London-based Premiership club.
Afewee’s Boxing Academy was started more recently, in 2014. It now offers 8 classes a week for both experienced and recreational members who are coached by Bobby and Laurie. Last month the club had its first boxer to compete for the club, Nyesco Okpako, who won against a boxer from Balham boxing club. Three more competitive boxers are signed up to compete this year.
Afewee is not just about sports, as Steadman explains: “It is about helping kids to realise their dreams. We are the ones that have to change our youngsters in the community. I don’t see no politician who would have the same kind of experience as us. You need people like us who know the other side of the road.”
“I say to the boys, I know they say to you fun comes first. But in Afewee, if you are going have fun, you won’t go to the top. If you want to be a winner, a star, you have to know passion, you have to love it. The fun is when you achieve your goal. And to learn about what you are passionate about, you have to work for it.”
“Let’s get it right, fun means you are successful, and to be successful it means you have to work hard. The fun comes in when you go on the pitch and you are performing, and you see all the hard work you have put in. It’s because of the passion and the love they have for it that they go to the top.”
“Even if they don’t get in to the football or boxing, what they learn through Afewee is discipline, and how to be successful. They learn how to apply themselves when they find something they are passionate about, which can be applied anywhere in life, not just to boxing or football. So Afewee is a way of life. We are here to motivate and uplift our youngsters.”
“These kids have helped me change my life – they have given me a new start. Because I got a second chance, I’m going to use my drive to help these kids become successful. When I’m watching Liverpool play the last time against Southampton, I’m watching Clyne play. If you asked me 18 years ago, would you be sitting in your front room watching boys from your program play? I would say: rubbish! But now to get to see it, and think – bloody hell! You have a responsibility son, so use your past and your drive to help the youngsters in the community. So that’s what I do here.”
“The council are thinking of giving the private company GLL total control of the Recreation Centre. If they do that, GLL will be the sole decision-maker. If they are in charge, programs like ours will be in jeopardy. The council should make sure there is a place in here for the community and the unemployed. Afewee Academy should be involved in the Rec, we should have our own base in here to represent the interests of the community and our youngsters, keep their interests in these classes. We know what they need, and we have proven it by the work that our volunteers here have done. And those young people – they are the future.”
Head over to Afewees website for more information regarding the Academy and times for boxing and football sessions.
This post was researched and written by B£ volunteer Fabien Piesakowski-O’Neill.