A new start
“I’ve been in and out of housing a lot. Just kind of dotting around and trying to get on with living.”
Leaha didn’t feel like she used to have much of a life. But while she was going from place to place, the opportunity came up to join Brighton and Hove Albion FC’s street football programme – Albion in the Community.
Leaha seized the chance to kick-start her life. After her hard work and dedication in these sessions, Leaha's coaches decided to refer her to Centrepoint and the Street Football Team England programme.
Kicking off with a training centre at St George’s Park, the home of England national football team, the programme’s unique approach combined physical fitness with education, life skills and employment training.
“We would do workshops and teambuilding activities, which gave us essential skills,” Leaha recalls. “The workshops consist of things like help with qualifications and help with thinking about our futures.”
When she started the programme, Leaha suffered with anxiety and wasn’t sure if she would be able to deal with the large group of people at the training centre.
“Centrepoint has been very considerate of that – they adjust to everyone’s individual needs,” Leaha says.
“With myself, it started off with a little group and they kind of gradually brought me into the wider group. I’m fine with doing the bigger group activities now.”
The big game
As part of the programme, Leaha travelled to Braga, Portugal, for the Futebol de Rua street football tournament. It was the first time she’d ever been away and her favourite part of the programme so far.
“The biggest problem we faced was the communication barrier, but despite that it was brilliant – we made plenty of friends,” she recalls.
On the last day of the tournament, another Team England player became injured and Leaha volunteered to take her to the hospital.
“I actually missed out on the last day of football. When we got back from the hospital we found out that, despite the language barrier, two of Porto’s team volunteered to play for us. It was such a brilliant cultural experience – we learnt a lot about them.”
Looking to the future
Leaha has always had a passion for coaching and with help from Centrepoint she’s been doing a Multi Sports Leadership Course Level 2. She’s also hoping to stay on with Street Football Team England as a volunteer leader to help others like her.
Looking to the future, she has always wanted to work in disability sport – and with her new skills and experience she now hopes to make that dream a reality.
"These opportunities don't come around very often, so if you get the chance – take it! It’ll be a life changer.”