Street League’s annual football fundraising tournament in partnership with CVC Capital Partners was marked by special guest appearances from ex-Arsenal and England defender Lee Dixon, and Street League ambassador Max Rushden.

For the fourth year running, 20 blue chip companies took part in the 5-a-side tournament where they were ‘twinned’ with a graduate from the Street League Academy. The graduates, aged 16 to 25, had all completed the charity’s 10-week football and education programme which develops key employability skills such as communication and teamwork, and offers several nationally-recognised qualifications.

Both Lee and Max chatted with the participants between games, and were on hand to present the trophy to the winning team. 

Lee said: “I’m really proud to be supporting Street League. The work they do in helping young people through some of the toughest times in their lives is so important. I've got to meet some of the young people who have been through the Street League Academy and it is inspirational to see the sparkle in their eye now after they were in some really dark places. Football has brought them to this environment and given them something else to focus on other than hanging around, not having a job, and being in a place where they are not happy. The transition from then to now is extraordinary and it is just brilliant to see." 

The tournament raised £100,000 and will be split evenly between funding the London Academies and Street League's Employer Engagement function. The Employer Engagement team provide aftercare support, work placements and traineeships for young people on the Academy programme.

One of those ‘twinned’ was Street League graduate Tolu, who attended the South London Academy in May 2014. To an audience of nearly 200 people, the 21 year-old gave a short speech about the impact Street League has had on his life. “I had been claiming Job Seekers Allowance and wasn’t going anywhere with my life, but being on the Academy changed all of that. Street League helped me get onto a work placement with Premier Inn and now I am working full-time for the company. I’m in a really good place and I love my job. Hopefully me coming back to events like this and talking to other Street League graduates will help inspire them to keep working hard. Having a job, or just knowing that you’re progressing and heading in the right direction means you’re moving forward, and gives you the confidence to keep going.”

The tournament was also supported by Britvic, who provided free energy drinks for the players.