The Brixton academy, created by head coach Steadman Scott and Tony Goldring, has produced over 40 professional footballers including Nathaniel Clyne.
English youth football is in a strong place. In 2017, the U-17 and U-20 teams won their respective World Cup tournaments, while the U-19’s won the European Championships and the U-21’s reached the semi-finals. Premier League club academies are producing world-class players and it’s showing. But work is happening at an even lower level.
The Afewee Academy is a non-profit organisation run by volunteers and funded by the local council in Brixton, training and inspiring children from 5-16. It’s run twice a week and helps the youngsters stay focussed and out of trouble. The path is lead by coaches Steadman Scott and Tony Goldring. Scott served time in the 90s and in an interview for The Guardian, said kids back then wouldn’t have chosen that path had there been an opportunity like Afewee at the time.
“I had to rebuild myself. When you have a criminal record you have no self-esteem, but I learned in prison I had to have a focus on something I was passionate about.”
Afewee is an adaptation of “a fi wi”, a Jamaican patois phrase meaning “it’s for us” and that ethos is instilled in everything Scott and his staff do with the youngsters. His approach can be harsh and razor sharp but intended to keep the kids from lapses in concentration. And it’s paid off: over 30 kids have been placed in youth academies, reaching professional level including the likes of Nathaniel Clyne and Andre Blackman.
Things are steady but expansion is difficult. Only Blackman has come back to see the current flock of players and Scott would like more of his alumni to give back.
“You know the problems we have. You know our young people have gone astray. One footballer coming down here would make a massive difference.”
The achievements of Afewee are remarkable and a brilliant way to instil confidence and discipline at the kids’ formative years.
If you want to read more about the academy and some of the players who made it into professional football, check out this featured article on The Guardian website.