School year ends with crunch match for Sport & Thought

Marking the end of the school year, two groups from the Brent Centre for Young People’s Sport & Thought programme recently played out a thrilling football match at the Westminster Academy Sports Complex. A team of boys from Kingsbury High School, who play at Silver Jubilee Park Stadium, were held to a 2-2 draw by a team from the Oxford Kilburn (OK) Club, in a well-fought game where the OK Club came back late-on to equalise in the final few minutes. Many spectators watched the game unfold, including the Heads of Year from participating schools, as well as youth workers and volunteers, who cheered on the boys all aged between 11 and 15 years.

Sport & Thought is the Brent Centre’s specialist model of group psychotherapy that uses football as a way of reaching young people who find it difficult to engage in traditional talking therapies. The model helps young people who struggle to regulate their emotions, present with difficulties with relationships, and who may live in deprived areas impacted by crime. It creates a safe place for them to think differently about their behaviour and reactions on and off the pitch, facilitating improvements in their relationships and other areas.

Group photo of Sport & Thought teams

These two Sport & Thought groups are currently funded by Children in Need, which is focused on improving access to early intervention, stigma-free therapeutic services in the community. Children in Need is set to support the programme for another two years. 

“I’m delighted to have seen such significant shifts over the year in boys from both these groups, watching them grow in confidence and build close relationships with each other”, said Barney Dunn, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and Sport & Thought Project Lead. “As a Centre, we are extremely grateful for the funding from Children in Need, which has greatly expanded access in the community to talking therapies that meet young people where they’re at.”

Action shot from the game

Stuart McTurk, Senior Youth Worker at the OK Club, added: “It was great to see how far these boys have come, thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Brent Centre. Sport & Thought provides a much-needed safe space for young people to develop, with clinicians working alongside each individual and accepting them fully for who they are.”