Framework FC - delivering great results on and off the pitch

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11 May 2013
by Neil Skinner

They play hard. They play well. They have fun and (of course) wear orange strips. Framework now has its very own football team competing in a Lincoln six-a-side league – thanks to the ingenuity and determination of hard-working staff.

Football doesn’t always generate the most positive of headlines but in Framework FC it’s found some. Team members – young men aged between 16 and 24 – are, on the face of it, pretty typical of what you’d expect to find at sports pitches across the land. What sets them apart is their challenging backgrounds and the fact that, without the support for Framework, they would be homeless.

The idea was simple, to build a sense of togetherness and purpose through the participation in a fully functioning team; one with regular training hours, a place in a competitive league and a very real identity. That was achieved with generous funding from the RAF.

I’ve seen team-work, encouragement and dedication. And I’ve seen leadership qualities from young lads that I can’t help but admire, and these qualities need to be encouraged. What started off as a kick about in the Park, with shouting, arguing, showing off and numerous cigarette breaks, has gradually changed

Danny Nichols

After a slow start the lads (many of them very good players indeed) have come good and are now in with a shout of the medals when the season ends in two games’ time.

However, as team co-founder and Framework floating support worker Danny Nichols explains here, the best results of all have been seen off the pitch.

It all started in late May 2012. Having just endured a long and cold winter, the weather started getting nice again. Nice enough for a kick about I thought……

My work colleague Megan Jones agreed so she devised some posters asking all of our young people if they’d be interested in playing football on a weekly basis.

Framework FC have recovered from a slow start and are now soaring up the league

We got an excellent response, and the next week, as we walked into the local Arboretum after work, it was fantastic to see a dozen or so young lads ready to play. Female service users were also invited to play, but they chose the ‘sitting on the sidelines and cheering the lads on’ approach, which was very much appreciated.

For 3-4 months a dozen of our young people regularly attended, and I was really pleased with the commitment being shown. We started discussing the idea of forming a proper Framework Football Team. If we were going to achieve this, better training facilities were needed, especially as the nights were going to start drawing in soon. So Megan started phoning a few leisure centres. We were a little dismayed at the lack of options and football training facilities in Lincoln, but after several weeks Meg finally managed to secure us a place at the brand new £16 million Deans Court Building, part of Lincoln College. A worthy venue for players of our ability and prowess!

Players came and went, but a hardcore seven  lasted the course, and turned up at every training session, regardless of the weather. Training was fun, but we all still wanted to play as a proper team, in a proper league.

I started looking at the possibilities of funding. I wrote to several organisations, asking for donations or football gear, but all to no avail. Then I got talking to my work colleague Donna Bradshaw, who had a friend who worked for the RAF who had funding available to give to local charities for Sport/Leisure purposes.

I contacted Cpl. Clair Ryder from the RAF, and she requested that I write a letter telling her all about Framework, and the positive influence Football has made. A few weeks later she very kindly donated enough money to Framework for us to be able to join the Sunday 6-a-side Leisure League, as well as buying all of the team Football Strip, Trainers, Footballs, Shin-pads, Tracksuits and Coats. The tracksuits and coats had both the Royal Air-Force and Framework emblems on them, and we all wear them with pride (and because it is always so cold).

We are all so grateful to Clair for making Framework F.C. a reality. The lads turn up for EVERY game, regardless of the weather and regardless of the kick offs normally being quite late on a Sunday evening.

The league has many tough and experienced teams in it, and we got off to quite a slow start. My work colleague, Graham Rowntree, very kindly got involved (I can encourage and shout, but I have no idea about tactics…..). Graham’s managerial experience and football knowledge made a big difference to the team and we’re improving all of time. Graham has been compared to Jose Mourinho! I’ve had my nose pushed out of joint a bit, but I don’t care, because we’re finally winning!

I’m really proud them all, and in the last ten months I have seen a real change in all of their attitudes.

I’ve seen team-work, encouragement and dedication. And I’ve seen leadership qualities from young lads that I can’t help but admire, and these qualities need to be encouraged. What started off as a kick about in the Park, with shouting, arguing, showing off and numerous cigarette breaks, has gradually changed. Fitness has improved, we play as a team, and ‘constructive’ criticism is offered. Well, most of the time!

I feel extremely privileged to be part of Framework F.C.

Framework FC are:

  • Dave - leads by example, and is a midfield maestro.
  • Charlton - continues to be fantastic in goal and regularly pulls off stunning saves
  • Stefan and Chris make the defence a solid one,
  • Andy works hard tracking back and forth to help out team-mates
  • Jon has just joined the team and can play absolutely anywhere, as well as offering support and guidance to the lads
  • and finally Kirtis, an amazing centre forward who keeps banging in the goals. [this really is no exaggeration. I saw him do a Van Persie only yesterday by taking a high ball over his shoulder and volleying it into the bottom corner!] A

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