On 4th September, whilst the sun was still beating down in the last days of the heatwave, a very significant inaugural football match took place at the grounds of Bognor Regis Town Football Club.
Stonepillow’s football team was started just under a year ago by support worker Liam O’Hagan; aiming to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of homeless and vulnerably housed adults in Bognor and Chichester; and to build the valuable life skills such as confidence, resilience and teamwork that team sports encourage. The team has trained weekly and over 40 different clients have attended sessions that have been full of laughter and always positive.
The Breen Machines, named after a client and friend who sadly passed away last year, took on the Bognor Regis Town Football Club Supporters in a match that offered the perfect opportunity to test some of the players and see if all the hard work had paid off. Players were proud and delighted to have the opportunity to play at the ground in the heart of their community; it was a day that boosted morale and will be remembered for a long time to come. The scoreline 9:3 to the Breen Machines was the icing on the cake!
In the words of one team member who was street homeless when he joined the team; ‘I started playing football to lose weight and help mental health. I hadn’t played in years, so been great playing again. It was a brilliant day at Bognor’. This client is now settled in temporary accommodation, receiving support and looking for a permanent home.
The team are very excited to carry on and playing together and looking forward to the next challenges.
Stonepillow would like to thank everyone who came and supported this event – from the family and friends of the team members, to staff and volunteers who helped on the day, to those who hosted craft stalls, to the Mayor and Mayoress for attending and presenting the trophy, to our own Liam O’Hagan who has dedicated so much of his own time to making it happen, and of course to all the players involved. And not forgetting ECCO Shoes who generously sponsored the event and the kit which our helped the team look so professional.
The day raised £900 that can go straight towards supporting the homeless and vulnerably housed in Bognor Regis. As the cost of living crisis takes its toll on so many of our community who are already living on the edge, the support that events such as these generate has never been more important. We hope to return next year with an even bigger and better event!
If you would like to consider donating to Stonepillow and supporting some of our most vulnerable in this time of crisis, please follow this link https://stonepillow.org.uk/how-to-help/donate/
All photos are curtesy of Lyn and Trev Sports Photography