Meet the Southampton students determined to make a difference

THE FBB society is focused on bettering the lives of Southamptno’s young people

Charity is a huge part of life and at the University of Southampton, the Students’ Union prides itself on the incredible efforts of its students in raising money for deserving causes through the likes of RAG. Being a part of a society is also a major part of university life and nearly everyone is a member of at least one society during unviersity.

Now some students are combining the two, and the newly founded Football Beyond Borders Society (FBB) is already making huge strides in helping to make a difference for the youth community in Southampton. I sat down with Kelvyn Quagraine and Joshwa Shah, both committee members of the FBB Society, to try and learn a little bit more about who they are and what they do.

FBB: All about making a difference

So what is Football Beyond Borders?

Essentially FBB is a charity based society running as a splinter of a larger organisation in London and what we aim to do is promote equality and inclusion through football both within the local community and the student community. We do this through delivering sessions at Newtown Youth Centre in Southampton City Centre based around messages such as equality, trust, respect and empathy as well as offering football sessions for the children afterwards.

What are your roles within the society?

I’m the society president and first set up this society.

And I’m the vice-president.

What inspired you to set up FBB?

I’ve been working with the main London FBB for a while now but I wanted to be able to get involved in the local community and create a platform that allowed students to do some meaningful work with their interest in football. I spoke with Joshwa who was working with Enactus and helping with mentoring in local primary schools which was a similar model to what I wanted to do here in Southampton with the methodology FBB promotes in London.


The Bigger Picture: FBB has been running successfully in London for 10 years now

You mentioned a larger London-based organisation, can you tell me more about them?

The main organisation has been running since about 2007 and what they do is they go into local schools in London and teach an educational curriculum based around footballing examples. The main goal of FBB is to reengage children who find themselves at the edge of the classroom and don’t respond well to the current style of our educational system. FBB want to bridge that gap to help bring these kinds of children back into society and making them engaged with learning.

Given how new the society is, how big have you guys gotten so far?

We’ve already grown pretty well so far considering we only started in September. In that time, we’ve managed to recruit lots of students and there are currently 20 of us. We are looking to push this number up to around 25 or 30 before the start of next year and a new batch of Freshers. At the moment we only operate in the one centre, Newtown, at the moment but we do want to expand this and are currently discussing a partnership with Polygon School.

Hard work pays off: FBB have already been working hard at Polygon, renovating their allotments

Can you tell us more about Newtown and the overall goal there?

Newtown used to be a community centre funded by the YMCA, however recent cuts mean they have to raise their own funds now. They are one of the only youth centres in Southampton that encourages people of all backgrounds to get involved and use their facilities. Kids can get involved in music production, playing football or basketball, using the PlayStation and generally have a social setting outside of school.

Our big goal there is to help with the fundraising for the centre. Right now they want just over £20,000 to renovate their football pitch so we want to help them get closer to that target through fundraising events both at the centre and here at the university.

What fundraising events do you have planned in the coming months?

We’ve got a football tournament planned in partnership with the Erasmus society to help introduce the new international students to the university as well as have them get to know a bit about us as a society. We also will hopefully have a few events at Sobar in the pipeline around late February into March and April based around individual societies and getting as many people down as possible. Then the big one is the Half-Marathon on April 23rd where several members of our society are going to run the Southampton Half-Marathon to raise money for Newtown and FBB. We’re going to have lots of social media coverage of that on Facebook and Twitter and we’ve set up a JustGiving page so anyone that wants to donate can, we’d really appreciate anything from anyone.

Other than fundraisers, what are the big plans for FBB in 2017?

We want to keep expanding the society and really get across our methodology and intentions to the local community in order to better establish ourselves as a force for good in Southampton. We do what we do out of passion, we don’t gain any sort of qualification or payment out of our work. It’s all for the benefit of the youth in Southampton. We want to start offering 1 to 1 mentoring to help measure the progress of these kids that we’ve already created such a great relationship with.

In 2017 we also want to implement the Youth Leader Programme which has been hugely successful for FBB in London. This gives kids aged 14-16 the opportunity to take on responsibility and develop leadership skills that will help them in school, in work and in the general community.

How much of your time is dedicated to football and how much to mentoring?

Despite being called Football Beyond Borders, the emphasis is not massively on football, especially in comparison to the mentoring aspect of our work. Football will be more present in our fundraising events and we can incorporate some footballing examples in our mentoring sessions with the young people. We do offer some football coaching after sessions but the main goal of our society is to deliver different lessons through our mentoring. The football is the platform to help deliver our mentoring.

Football is essentially our way in and the way we help convey ourselves to the young people, but our main focus is mentoring these guys and bettering their lives.

Fundraisers: FBB running university events designed to help raise money for Newtown Youth Centre

What’s been each of your personal highlights of FBB has been so far?

Our session just before Christmas was my highlight. I got to see members of our society who had previously lacked the confidence to lead sessions before take control and this was the first time I got to see the work of our society really play out and have an effect on ourselves as a group. It was really nice to see how far some of our members had come in such a short time.

Similarly to Kelvyn, my highlight would have to be when we went in to Newtown and delivered our first mentoring session. After a whole summer of planning and pushing ourselves as a committee once university started to establish the society when we went down there on the day, being able to overcome the reality of it all and get these young people into one room and engaged in what we were teaching was a really proud moment.

Finally, how can other people get involved in FBB?

You can find us on Facebook at ‘Football Beyond Borders Southampton’ and from there you can message any of us and we can start the ball rolling with getting anyone involved.

We also want to have more of a presence on campus to get people engaged. You can also contact us on Twitter ‘@FBBSociety’ and if you want to know anything at all just ask us. People will be around campus in kit from time to time, so if you see anyone in a black tracksuit with the FBB logo on their jacket just stop them and talk to them. We will literally get you involved as quickly as possible and we need more girls to get involved because at the moment we don’t have a real female presence within the society. We want to be as inclusive as possible and the process is really quick and easy.