Ray Harrison: From Premier League Kicks Participant to Inspirational Community Mentor

Case Study

Ray Harrison, now 34, first connected with Reading FC Community Trust as a 17-year-old eager to change his life. His journey began with the Premier League (PL) Kicks project at South Reading Leisure Centre. Through his engagement with the project, Ray earned numerous qualifications, including FA coaching certifications, Youth Work Level 2, and Team Teach Level 2, laying a solid foundation for his future endeavours.

Ray has always had a passion for physical activity, but his real drive comes from a desire to give back to his community. Using his personal experiences, he aims to support, guide, and mentor young people facing multiple risk factors. This commitment led him to spend ten years working at Priors Court in Newbury, where he supported individuals with autism, before returning to Reading FC Community Trust.

Returning to the Trust, Ray took on a vital role in their alternative provision and PL Kicks sessions across Berkshire. As the Alternative Provision Assistant Manager and PL Youth Mentor, Ray organises and delivers a wide range of alternative education and sports activities. His efforts extend to leading the StreetGames sessions for 19-25-year-olds at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.

Ray’s role in the StreetGames sessions is crucial. He uses football and general fitness activities to engage young people, fostering an environment of fun and trust. These sessions help participants build confidence, develop social skills, and form friendships. By creating a supportive atmosphere, Ray enables young people to open up about their challenges, whether they relate to family issues, bullying, school difficulties, or more complex community problems.

During the sessions, Ray acts as a friendly, non-judgmental mentor. He listens to young people, offering advice and connecting them with additional services when needed. His approach has proven effective in helping young people feel more confident and supported. Ray’s work was even highlighted in a BBC South Today feature, which focused on how the StreetGames sessions are combating knife crime in the Thames Valley.

Ray’s dedication has made a significant impact on the lives of the young people he mentors. Through his efforts, participants have learned to trust adults, gain confidence, and develop important life skills. The partnership with No5 has further enhanced the support available, providing access to qualified counsellors and opportunities for youth voice and social action.

Ray Harrison’s journey from a PL Kicks participant to a full-time mentor is a testament to impact community-focused sports programmes can have. His work with Reading FC Community Trust and StreetGames not only enriches the lives of young people but also strengthens the community as a whole. Ray continues to inspire and support the next generation, helping them navigate their challenges and achieve their potential.

This intervention was supported by StreetGames, who have been commissioned by the Thames Valley Violence Prevention Partnership to develop and implement sports-based interventions with the Thames Valley region to support the reduction of serious violent crime in ages 10- 25. We do this by working with community organisations to co-design, deliver and embed these interventions within their own communities through our sports justice work. 

Case Study Item
5 June 2024

Scott's volunteering journey with Active Hastings and StreetGames

Scott's journey from a young participant to a community role model and StreetGames Young Advisor is a testament to the power of Doorstep Sport.

Case Study Item
22 May 2024

“Since starting, it has made me think about my future” – one young person’s boxing journey

Boxing sessions supported by StreetGames and the Thames Valley Violence Prevention Partnership have supported this young person to grow in confidence and make positive choices.

Case Study Item
8 March 2024

From Volunteer to Leader: Muneerah Balesaria's Journey with Salaam Peace

This International Women’s Day we’re shining a light on the success stories of young women and girls within the StreetGames network to inspire and motivate others.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Stay in touch with our work, unlock your fundraising potential and discover how we change lives!

"*" indicates required fields

Yes, I would like to subscribe to the StreetGames newsletter*