Big Issue Changemaker David Duke MBE has been reeling in some big names to keep his Street Soccer Scotland players spirits up.
This week almost 100 of the charity’s players connected to the social enterprise’s Street Soccer Live Zoom sessions to quiz former footballer and wheeling dealing football manager-turned-celebrity Harry Redknapp on his career.
The former West Ham boss spent an hour taking questions from Street Soccer Scotland players, revealing his admiration for Aston Villa’s John McGinn and Chelsea young star Billy Gilmour, calling them “a throwback to the great Scottish midfielders”.
As part of our wider support plans during this difficult period we have called on some our football pals to provide a wee bit of hope, inspiration and laughs for our players as they go face to face with footy heroes in a live Q&A. #StreetSoccerLive #HarryRedknapp pic.twitter.com/WNzH6MsHZi
— Street Soccer Scotland (@streetsoccerSCO) April 15, 2020
Some of the greats from the past got a mention too, including Sir Kenny Dalglish who recently battled coronavirus.
Redknapp is the second football star to take part since Street Soccer Scotland was forced to close pitches due to the Covid-19 lockdown. Former Manchester United and Hearts midfielder and broadcaster Michael Stewart has already taken part, with Chris Sutton, Ally McCoist, Shelley Kerr and Alex McLeish set to host sessions in the coming weeks.
Founder and CEO Duke said: “We’ve known for a long time that football is about more than just physical exercise. Every day at Street Soccer Scotland we see that it has the power to bring people together, to unite a community and to help some of the most vulnerable people in our society through the best and the worst of times.
“Ensuring the health and safety of our players, staff and volunteers is vital, so unfortunately we have been unable to meet on the pitches for a kickabout, but we have done everything we can to make sure our players continue to feel supported and connected to the Street Soccer Scotland family.
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
“Street Soccer Live is just one of the ways we are supporting players and we are so grateful to all of the football legends who have agreed to join us.”
Street Soccer Scotland has been particularly active while football has been off the agenda.
They have been supporting their players with everything from free pet food, smartphones and online counselling sessions to keep the team together.
One of their players, Andy Blyth, said that SSS’s work is helping him to keep motivated through the lockdown.
“Going down to play with the Street Soccer guys was something we all looked forward to, but we don’t even have that just now,” he said. “The support we’ve all had has been great. I would have struggled to managed if Street Soccer hadn’t gone above and beyond with food provisions and keeping in regular contact with video calls. The contact has really helped keep my spirits high and gave me something to look forward too.
“Speaking to Harry was not something I ever thought I’d have the chance to do, let alone all of the other legends that we’ll be speaking to over the next few weeks. It’s incredible and is giving me something to look forward to each week.”