History of DFA…
A parent looking for football activities for his children in 2013 could not find anything in the locality. Children already had to be of a certain standard to get into local teams. He decided to do something himself and organised a group of 12 children to play football on a weekly basis at the weekend just for fun and exercise on a local field. This field was unplayable in winter and a more reliable pitch was needed.
In 2014 more members of the community wanted to get involved with their children and their friends, the number has now grown from 12 to around 160 registered members aged between 6 and 16 year old – with approximately 20 volunteers and now using the all-weather facilities in Darnall.
We have regular tournaments with different organisation around Sheffield. We had one in the summer of 2016, where approximately 170 players played with winners receiving medals and trophies. Teams entered the tournament from Nether Edge, Tinsley, Handsworth, Darnall and Firth Park. A good number of parents came out to support their children. We are the first organisation in South Yorkshire to set up a competitive 5 a side league for U15s currently with ten teams from different areas of Sheffield.
We have had a sustainable affordable model that has paid its own way. Weekly fees pay not only for the equipment, but also for some coaches that are now delivering better training and football sessions. The future playing teams that would run from the club will bring in extra revenue from their subscription. We have many volunteers from different back grounds and skills sets; they are already working in or have worked in the running of voluntary organisations. We have members of the board that are trustees of academies and governors and heads of schools, teachers and successful businessmen.
Increasing our capacity and facilities would increase the numbers and the financial returns – that would be reinvested. Successful members of the community want to financially support this worthy cause and organisation because they want to invest in their children’s futures.
We have great links with other community organisations like Darnall Community Nursery where we have worked with parents from the nursery and also with Handsworth Grange Community Sports College in supporting pupils that attend both the Football Academy and the school. S/park would like to further increase its links with local schools such as Acres Hill and High Hazels and support others like Davy Sports where we can. We are in the process of having a community voice with members from Darnall Wellbeing, Darnall Forum, TARA and the Best Start Community.
We are already delivering on our aim of children becoming confident young adults that are achieving their goals both academically and also from a footballing aspect they have moved on to playing competitive grassroots football.
We want to, and can offer, so much more if given the opportunity.
Club Ethos, what we stand for…
Darnall Football Academy (DFA) was established in 2013 to help raise the aspirations of young people from different ethnicities and backgrounds and improve the cohesion with communities in the surrounding areas.
Our aim is to mentor and engage the young members of DFA through educating our future leaders on the importance of health and wellbeing, mental health and social cohesion, all the while enhancing their social skills.
Living in deprived areas like Darnall and Lower Manor, it is difficult to motivate the youth to have a healthy well-balanced lifestyle when there is not much opportunity to do anything or to go anywhere. Boredom is a big factor and many are from an under-privileged background and need more support.
Social skills are limited; groups tend to stay together with little interaction with others and even within their own ethnicity.
DFA has around 20 volunteers who have had similar experiences and can relate to the young members. The challenge is to engage with them on a platform where they feel they can participate. Part of this is to gain their trust and deliver on our promises.
Football is an incredible tool that breaks all barriers and can change history; it brings all ages, colours and backgrounds together as part of a team/club. Members have a sense of belonging; adults can engage and develop on many levels of different skills with the players, physical, social, technical and psychological. The FA four corners model applies not just in football development but in life.
Our philosophy is to develop our young members into great role models and talented footballers who believe they can succeed.