Sporting Elite - breaking down barriers.

How funds raised through The Health Lottery help Sporting Elite support kids and teenagers in Birmingham through their Better Me project.

Birmingham-born Sebastian Hamilton is the dad of a teenager, so he knows a thing or two about the problems facing young people growing up in the city. And that’s why the 39-year-old, who’s a former coach of a Premier League football club, set up Sporting Elite eight years ago.

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Having sport to focus on helped Sebastian when he was a teenager, so he had a clear vision of how he could support young people. And with a team of 11 youth workers and coaches at his side, he’s now making a real difference to their lives, as well as the wider community.

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“When I was 18 I did start going down a silly path, but football kept me out of trouble,” he says.

“Sport is the best engagement tool you can ever use. We have coaches who go out to school and support teachers with PE lessons, plus we run a before and after school club.

“The workshops are based around whatever the school says they’re getting into trouble for, so if they’re rude to the teachers we’ll do a session on respect.

“One week we’ll mentor them, the next we’ll show them how to lead the session. It gives them the platform and puts them in charge. We’ve also signed up to an online course to develop new skills such as leadership. It’s important to build up resilience and look at the employability side of things.”

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Sporting Elite’s mentors receive referrals from local schools and West Midlands Police – and the team also run a community foodbank, which started ad hoc in lockdown and now supports 18 families in the area.

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Although sport is a great way to bring the young people together, Sebastian and the team also offer a wide range of ways to engage them at their youth club in Perry Barr.

“It’s a safe space to do sport and there are lots of other activities such as playing Xbox.

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“It’s nice for kids to have somewhere safe to go after school where they can get together, have a few snacks, then hopefully by the time they go home they’re tired and just want to chill out rather than hang around the streets of Birmingham,” he says.

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The current society benefitting from funds raised is LEW Health CIC T/A HL London East

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