Achieving goals on and off the field

Henry May, Teach First '09

It all started with one classroom in South London...

My biggest win as a teacher in South London happened in my second year when I started a student football team with a Teach First colleague. Suddenly, my relationships with some of my most challenging and disengaged students changed in a positive way. For me, leading the team allowed me to get to know my Year 10 boys outside the classroom. But the impact went much deeper, providing students with self-confidence and a sense of companionship that had a positive impact on their academic performance.  

Taiwo, for example, was an extremely bright 14 year old boy but had a tendency to follow the negative influences of others and struggled in the classroom. For Taiwo, football taught him that he could reach his athletic aspirations by being disciplined and focusing on improving specific aspects of his game. As his coach and teacher, I was able to relate his newfound focus and dedication to our academic aspirations in philosophy class, and Taiwo’s academic results improved significantly.

 

... and it grew into a network of positive change

This experience planted the seed for the creation of The Huracan Foundation, two years later. The Huracan Foundation is built on the idea that football (and sport) has the power to deliver transformative experiences and messages to students, in any part of the world. Currently we support 200 students around the world through four football projects- in India through Just For Kicks, Colombia, Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom.  We have also been able to provide coaching programmes that aim to ‘improve life skills' through football. In the past few years, we have been able to grow our network, our knowledge, and our impact thanks to the enthusiasm of Teach For All participants and alumni around the world. In this year alone, we are developing new Huracan projects in The Philippines, Australia, Bulgaria, Brazil, and Kenya.

Second year Enseña por Colombia participant Carlos Echeverry saw a real need to develop character traits such as perseverance and integrity in his students. He tried and, by his own admission, failed to do so in his maths classes. However, with support and guidance from The Huracan Foundation, he developed a new ‘character building through football’ project in which he and his students created a football team despite many obstacles. In the past nine months, Huracan FC Colombia has had a positive impact in many ways including Carlos’s improved relationships with his students, his students' achievement in maths and character development, and even the increased engagement of some previously disengaged parents. Carlos explains:

“In my school, there are few chances to access high quality educational experiences outside the classroom. Through the Huracan FC Colombia team, my students were able to practice skills and values in real life experiences. Then they transferred those learnings to their academic activities and personal life. Now they are aware of why persevering to achieve a goal is important, no matter if it is in the football field or in math class.”

Get involved!

1. Join Us! 

Do you coach a football team at your school or are you involved in a project or NGO that is using sports to transform lives? We would like to partner with you! Partnership includes receiving financial and other support from the Huracan Foundation and renaming your team “Huracan." Together we can build on the transformative power of football. Email Henry for more information!

2. Donate or sponsor a team! 

Financial and other forms of support are critical to our work. We welcome all forms of contribution including: sponsoring a Huracan team, contributing your services, or donating funds. Consider the story of the emerging Huracan FC Bulgaria team.  When not developing the Huracan website, they play in an adult team, support disadvantaged schools through IT workshops and internships, and also fundraise for the foundation! To get involved or to donate, contact: Peter

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Reflect & Share

How have sports or extra-curricular activities had a transformational effect on your students? Is it our responsibility as teachers to develop skills outside the classroom if we're struggling inside? Share your story!