Haven’t Palace Family Days changed? Set up to encourage attendance from a wider audience base for low profile fixtures, they have in the past been a mix of free and cheap tickets, dreadful pre-match and halftime entertainment, and awful results against poor teams.
Since the CPFC 2010 consortium took over in 2010, they seem to have injected a freshness to the procedure. The fact that Palace beat Burnley in a 4-3 thriller in the last one suggests that times, they are a changing. The team actually winning on these days now, will hopefully encourage those casual attendees to return more regularly, and increase the matchday attendance towards the 20k mark.
The club seem to be trying to integrate their activities into the local community too, and vice versa. One great innovation was to develop the concept of volunteer ‘Games Makers’ similar to those see at the London Olympics. Another was giving the opportunity for community organisations to showcase their work. One such organisation is Street League.
Street League are a charity and social enterprise that work with the hardest to reach young people, within a structured football and education ‘Academy’ programme which develops vital life and employability skills such as communication, teamwork, goal-setting, CV-writing and mock interviews, with a view to getting their participants to realise their goals.
I spoke to one of Street League’s Youth and Community coaches, George Parnavelas, earlier in the week, and he explained to me how Palace had been working with Street League to support their work in helping youngsters in the local area. George explained that the club had allowed Street League to make use of some of their facilities, from using their pitches at the BRIT School site in the Selhurst area, to making use of their IT suite at the Study Centre to deliver some of the classroom based activities.
George was able to use the Family Day to showcase Street League’s activities, reaching out to potential participants as well as raising the profile of the charity to potential fundraisers or volunteers. Street League were sited in the car park behind the main stand, with the other groups and charities. The club had done really well to get over 20k supporters to the ground, but with kick off approaching, they were struggling to keep the queues down at the ticket collection point. Some of Street League’s participants were asked to help out in distributing the tickets. Their work was observed by Palace Chief Executive Phil Alexander, and by the end of the day the particpants had been offered jobs in the Palace box office!
Youth unemployment in the UK is at its highest level since the early 1980s, and more than one million 16 to 24-year-olds are out of work – that’s one in every five young people. It is the crisis this country cannot afford. But Street League are doing their bit. Three out of four Street League graduates get a job or return to education and training. That’s 600 young people in the last 12 months alone. Their tie up with Palace and the spin off benefits that this has already demonstrated is just one example of how football and community groups can work together for the greater good.
Palace fan, comedian, matchday programme contributor and FYP Fanzine Podcast star, Kevin Day (@kevinhunterday ) met the Street League guys at the match, and was very impressed:
“I have a passionate and romantic belief in football as a force for good in the community, and every now and then I come across someone like Street League to prove that I am right. When other people turn their back on the most disadvantaged young men and women, Street League, and football, goes out to welcome them in.”
George Parnavelas couldn’t have been more complimentary about Crystal Palace and how they have supported Street League’s activities right through the club from supporting the delivery of their courses, to providing tickets to matches. Long may it continue!
If you are interested in knowing more about Street League, want to get involved, or know of any unemployed 16-25 years that might benefit from their programmes, you can find out more information on their website. They run courses all over London, as well as in the North East, Manchester, Glasgow and hopefully soon in Liverpool too.
STREET LEAGUE – CHANGE LIVES THROUGH FOOTBALL | WWW.STREETLEAGUE.CO.UK
Check out the Street League video at Downing Street: