Camden United football team brings the community together

Camden United football team brings the community together

Camden United football team brings the community together 1920 1280 Karishma Puri

Camden United is a football club that’s been set up to bring the community together, offer open and accessible sessions and address mental health issues. It is the brainchild of born-and-raised Camdeners, Hafid Ali and Abdulaziz Munye (both 25), who know all too well the adversities some Camden youth face, and they are determined to make a change.

Football is always what has connected them to their community and neighbourhood. The reason for this is simple – it was easy to access when they were growing up. Hafid explains, “My mum wouldn’t have let me play football if it was £5 a session … £2 even!” Given that it now costs roughly £10 at some football clubs to play a single game, they wanted to find a way to make sure everyone could still play, without the financial burden.

“We know how it feels growing up in council estates, single parent households … it’s tough for parents, we just want to make it accessible to them,” says Hafid.

It’s not just about football

They started off by organising free games that anyone could come and join. Soon parents started sending their kids to play and it grew from there. Now Camden United has four teams, starting with eight year olds and going all the way up to the men’s team.

It’s not just about football though. The games are a way to bring the community together, support one another and have open conversations. “In October, one of our friends passed away,” says Abdulaziz, “And he used to come to every single one of our games. From the very beginning. After he passed, it brought everyone closer together. The people that used to come tripled after that.”

These days the Sunday games are packed with spectators: old friends are reunited, new ones are made and the issues facing the community are spoken about more openly.

Mental wellbeing

“Thanks to our sponsors, the Francis Crick Institute, we recently had a workshop on mental wellbeing. As men, especially as a football club, that’s not something that happens quite often,” Hafid points out.

According to the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), an organisation working to help prevent suicide, every week 125 people in the UK take their own lives and 75% of all UK suicides are male.

Camden United are working hard to break the taboo around discussing mental health, and it seems to be working. People are coming and talking to them privately after the games, calling them with their problems and reaching out to others around them for help.

“Camden United has big plans for the future: more football teams, including for women, more open conversations about mental health”

Big plans for the future

Underneath all the good work Hafid and Abdulaziz are doing, they are determinedly focused on keeping this as a community effort.

Camden United has big plans for the future: more football teams, including for women, more open conversations about mental health and – most importantly – empowering their community to bind together and look after one another.

Would you like to find out more about Camden United?

Visit their social media pages on Instagram and Twitter to see what they are up to or visit a game to talk to them about young people, football, about the club and how they can support young people in their area.

Photo credits: Karishma Puri

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