The recently launched Football 7s is set to become the highest profile global amateur football tournament ever staged, offering up prizes at each stage of the tournament, with massive prizes for all finalists and exclusive scouting opportunities that offers budding stars of the future, a chance to get discovered. The tournament is running over an 18 month period, with qualifying stages being run in 28 different countries. Winning teams in the initial stages can win a new set of strips for their team and teams that qualify for the Grand Finals in Dubai will win £5,000, an all-expenses-paid trip to Dubai to compete to win the grand prize of $250,000 and a chance to trial at a top English club. If you are lucky enough to make the finals, you will also be playing against 10 teams of ex-professional footballers in The Grand Final.

The Football 7s have chosen Street League as their UK charity partner, to raise awareness of how we can use football to change lives and inspire young people, as well as 5% of entry fees being donated to help tackle youth unemployment through sport. This vital funding will ensure that Street League can continue to support vulnerable young people from disadvantaged communities around the UK, and give them a chance of a better future. 

Street League is the UK’s leading sport for employment charity. The charity uses sport, particularly football, to engage with unemployed young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and support them to develop key life and work skills needed to gain employment. Operating in 14 cities and 38 communities across the UK, Street League supported 1553 young people into employment, education and training in 2016-17.

Football is integral to the success of Street League’s programmes. Initially, it acts as the hook to engage with young people, makes the programme fun and keeps them coming back. But they also use football to teach valuable life skills, which are vital in finding and keeping a job, such as teamwork, communication, leadership and respect for rules and authority. They also use football to teach maths and English qualifications through the likes of stats, fantasy leagues or using fractions on a football pitch. That works even with young people who struggled at school because it applies to something they are passionate about.

Chelsea, a recent success story from a Street League football programme said: "I struggled with social skills. I found it really hard to communicate with people. When I first arrived on the course they got me playing football and we all bonded through the sport. Football is fantastic; it gets you out, it's a fun exercise, you meet new people and it's a great way to have fun as well. Thanks to Street League I now have a job - I feel great about the future and so much more positive and confident in myself.”

Danny O’Donnell, 18, from Glasgow, says: “I’ve been unemployed now for a few months and thinking, ‘What do I do next?’ Because I’ve been applying for jobs every day and getting nowhere. It can get you down; you start worrying you might not get anywhere in life. You leave school having done the best you possibly can and think, ‘I’m going to go far’. But it’s not like the old days when you could just walk in somewhere and get a job. It’s much harder now, and it’s upsetting, pushing yourself to the max and not getting anywhere.”

Sara McCraight, Street League’s Head of Marketing, explained: “We work with unemployed 16-to-24-year-olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds and, using the power of football, help them move into jobs, training and education. We work in areas with the highest deprivation and with young people who have few qualifications and significant barriers to employment, varying from mental health issues, criminal records, to a lack of confidence."

Expanding at an extraordinary rate, the Football Industry has recently been estimated to be worth in excess of $25 billion globally - growing approximately 6% per annum. Despite all the investment into the game, over this same period of time, it has become harder for younger players to find platforms to showcase their abilities. The Football 7's format has been designed to help them get noticed. Both organisations share the core belief in using football as a tool for empowering young people and enabling everyone to reach their full potential.  

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