HIBERNIAN FC legend Mickey Weir put his boots on again recently to for a free community football initiative run by the city’s Helping Hands organisation.
The volunteer community-based organisation was established to work with partners in challenging social and economic inequality in Edinburgh and recently launched the initiative, which aims to provide structured practice sessions open to all boys and girls aged between 8-12 years old. The sessions are led by former Hibs, Hearts and other professional players—such as Weir—and supported by Helping Hands volunteers who themselves have footballing and community activism experience. The first event was held at the Millennium Park, Muirhouse, where the children had great fun practising and enhancing their skills with the former Hibs’ winger (above).
Helping Hands Community Football is part of the organisation’s health and wellbeing strand and will be rolled out in more locations across the city. It aims to allow local communities to reclaim their parks and streets for their kids and give them the chance to spend time on the ball, develop their skills, knowledge and capabilities, while being encouraged and supported by ex-professionals in a safe and structured environment, which improves their social and physical wellbeing. All this is provided for free on an inclusive basis.
“Several professional football clubs and ex-players are now running football schools which charge kids to participate,” Jim Slaven, who co-founded Helping Hands with Bradley Welsh, said. “This has the unintended consequence of excluding some children. Helping Hands are delighted to be working in partnership with former players to provide community football sessions free and open to all. This fits into our strategy of identifying need in working class communities and engaging with the community on an all volunteer basis to provide free activities and support.”
Helping Hands has been supported in its endeavours by Colin Campbell Sports, who kindly donated 30 footballs and provided great discounted football training equipment.