Birmingham Impact FC: Sustainable Soccer in the Heart of the City
20th September 2022
We are delighted to share a guest blog from Zehir Kadra who talks about his journey from social entrepreneur to sustainable social enterprise and changing lives through soccer…
In 2017, a man with a plan, Zehir Kadra, decided to introduce grassroots football that was easily accessible and in tune with what the local, diverse community needed – low cost, no sign up fees, flexible and inclusive. Parents were satisfied, nowhere else in Ward End offered a 2hr recreational session for £3!! A second branch opened up in Moseley to serve that side of Birmingham… and social enterprise, Birmingham Impact FC, was up and running. The kids voted with their feet – the numbers steadily increased as did the coaching staff. Fun filled, fast and frequently furious sessions – with plenty of footballs flying around.Operating mainly as a soccer school, Birmingham Impact Football Club, a Community Interest Company (CIC), also flirted with competitive football quite early on & had two teams enter leagues – Central Warwickshire for the older players and a local community league for the younger players which gave them much desired match time.The pandemic inevitably brought UK to a halt – we continued online football challenges and competitions to keep kids engaged. However, as soon as the Football Association allowed it, we were back offering face to face sessions in line with guidelines – a much needed outlet for the kids, after months of being hemmed in and socially restricted. Cue summer of 2020 and the post-pandemic fever – instigated no doubt by parents watching their children drown into their devices – resulted in a rapid increase in numbers – often touching 80 players just at The Rec!
Being in such a visible location meant we had a lot of passing interest including many girls wanting to play football and Head Coach Zehir’s policy was, rightfully, ‘we don’t turn kids away!’
Our burgeoning sessions, wrestling with the other local kids so we could use the Astro cages & the never ending litter and dog mess meant we knew we needed a home we could call our own. As much as we loved The Rec, we had outgrown it and left it knowing it had served us and the local children honourably.Fast forward to August 2022 – Birmingham Impact FC can now proudly call the Stechford Playing Fields as our own home ground – we wish to continue being accessible to Ward End and the local community and so chose the closest space available – walking distance, 5min drive and a bus route away from The Rec! Officially opened by Councillor Diane Donaldson, with an ambition to match the size of the grounds – our inaugural season 22/23 where we will be entering a whopping five teams into competitive leagues. We offer a safe, inclusive space for all children aged 5-16 years. We understand that some children only want to train and play football for fun with no strings attached and so will continue to offer pay & play sessions as a soccer school. We understand the pressures of the current cost of living crisis and keep our fees as low as possible and have hardship funds for those eligible. We will be introducing schemes where families can access donated football boots etc. Our funding applications and sponsorship requests are all vital to help make all this possible. We are confident that most children love to play competitively and so will have a parallel stream for development and performance pathways. Our extensive links also mean that any child who shows significant talent will be guided towards a pathway to fulfil their potential, in an aim to increase the number of children from ethnically diverse and inner city backgrounds to have more representation at elite level football. Our home ground will be home to Sports & Recreation, not just football and not just the next generation – but for adults, women, local schools etc. The future is full of potential that we intend to harness for the betterment of our local community.
“Birmingham Impact Football Club celebrates the diversity of our city and brings the youth together through sport. The building of this team, the connections and friendships that are made and the comradery made through the sport and their collective effort as a team help to bring our communities and our city closer together”.