As another year ends, here’s a roundup of what we got up to at VYD in 2022.

Happy Hawks

Our collaboration with the ever-excellent Crew Club has led to a new youth football infrastructure in Whitehawk taking shape this year. The Crew Club Hawks u8s are thriving in their league, with the number of players who have signed for the team growing all the time so it looks like we’ll be having two teams at u9s next year. 

We’re also now running u10s & 11s sessions too, with more teams coming on stream next season. We’re very excited about this as is Darren Snow, founder, and owner of The Crew Club, who said “It’s been such a privilege partnering with VYD on Crew Club Hawks FC. We share the same value sets and passion for youth football. This is the start of something very special for the young people from the Whitehawk estate.”


CCH team photo

Crew Club Hawks u8s – the future of community football in Whitehawk


Free food, football and fun!

We’ve continued to provide free (funded) football activities to primary school children via Foodball (an introduction to healthy pre and post-match football food and cooking along with football sessions), Zonal (designing a team’s crest, kit and slogan with football sessions), and our after school football sessions at Moulsecoomb Primary School. Teachers have told us that they’ve noticed improvements in children’s ability to cooperate and play together as a result of these projects. There’s still lots more to be done though and we’ll be continuing our sessions from January 2023.


Child with food at Foodball

Football, fun and food at Foodball



Foodball football session at Moulsecoomb Primary


The most recent Sport England Active Lives survey found that primary-aged children in years 3-4, and black boys of primary ages, had not recovered activity to pre-pandemic levels. Children from low-affluence families are less likely to be active than those from high affluence, and children and young people going to school in the most deprived places in the country have not seen activity recover to pre-pandemic levels. Local interventions show signs of making a big difference, so we continue to work hard in this area.

Foodball at Moulsecoomb Primary

Having fun with food at Moulsecoomb Primary


ABC Football

Our ABC (Agility Balance Coordination) Football sessions were delivered with reception year children at Brighton & Hove Primary Schools and Community Centres. The children – and teachers – loved these fun, innovative sessions which included obstacle courses, interactive light display games and, of course, plenty of footballs! We delivered these sessions at Moulsecoomb Primary, Coldean Primary and Crew Club and we’re looking to do a lot more next year.

The sessions are inclusive, fun and a gentle introduction to football as well as helping young people to ‘find their feet’ in terms of using their ABCs to build their core strength. ABC isn’t just meant for the classroom!!


ABC sessions at Crew Club


ABC football

As simple – and fun – as ABC Football


Zonal markings

We worked on our Zonal – Design & Football, project in Crawley with four primary schools over six weeks in partnership with Crawley Town Foundation, the Premier League Primary Stars and Active Sussex. This was a targeted intervention project that focused on working with young people who are struggling in the traditional classroom setting. Zonal encourages people to be creative, to work together with others, but also to express their own individual creativity. 


Zonal kit bag


The four schools involved were Southgate Primary, Bewbush Acadamey, Northgate Primary and Seymour Primary. There were, on average, 10 children per week in each session, so we engaged with 40+ children week on week and we saw their confidence and creativity grow to incredible levels. Some children, who showed signs of lack of confidence at the start of the project were, by week 5, presenting their brilliant ideas in front of the class to their head teacher! 

All four schools had old, tired football kits, so the project focused on designing new kits for all the schools, which included a new school football team crest, a new bespoke kit and a positive, motivational slogan to appear across the front of the shirt. These designs had to have some relevance to the existing school branding, as did the stories behind the designs. 


Crawley Town Foundation

Liam (left) and Jake from Crawley Town Foundation with the final Bewbush Academy kit design


The four kits that were eventually produced, featured a range of students ideas, culminating in some inspired designs. The Zonal project also looks to introduce the students to the possibility of the creative industries as a future career path and were delivered by VYD’s owner, Gary Pleece. The football sessions were taken by the wonderful, Liam Joyce, of Crawley Town Foundation, and these were inclusive, fun sessions for all participants, which were generally a mix of girls and boys.

“Some great designs! Thanks for all your work on this. It’s such a meaningful project for the kids to be a part of.” 

David Leake, Assistant Head Teacher, Bewbush Academy


For the love of people and the game

Thanks to the generous funding from local businesses and fundraising from VYD friend and ally, Lewis Claydon, we’ve been able to provide free coaching on Saturday mornings at Falmer Sports Complex, in partnership with Montpelier Villa FC. The sessions are aimed at local primary-aged children aged between 5 and 12, and they allow the opportunity for them to have fun, develop skills, meet new friends and get fit. There is also the longer-term possibility of being able to join the Montpelier Villa youth setup. Big thanks to Rob Grim from Revolution Gym for his generosity which is allowing this to happen.

Lewis Claydon running

Lewis Claydon on his fundraising run for VYD


Walking, talking football

The summer saw us delivering a walking football programme at Crew Club in Whitehawk, which was funded by Active Sussex. We had a few women trying football for the first time, following on from our regular Thursday sessions at Falmer Sports Complex, which regularly has a mix of ages and genders, with age ranges from 11 – 64! The project was such a success that after the 20-week funding period, it is now continuing to be delivered by Crew Club. Ongoing participation is the key for all of our projects; there’s no point in doing a few sessions, ticking some boxes, and then moving on. Projects that work need to be sustainable and to grow, and this can only be done in partnership with other organisations that share the same outlook and values as VYD.

Walking football Crew Club

Walking Talking Football at Crew Club


Walking football Moulsecoomb

The walking football group take a break at The Bevy pub


The universal language of football

VYD has been working with people seeking asylum since 2019, providing free football sessions for people from all over the world. For people fleeing conflict and persecution, football can play a hugely important role in helping to settle and integrate into a new country and culture. This year, funding from the National Lottery enabled us to deliver our first ESOL and football course. We regularly had 24+ people at each session, which consisted of an hour learning English in the classroom and an hour continuing the learning via the universal language of football in the sports hall. After the undoubted success of this project, we’re hoping to deliver similar projects again in 2023 with funding bids currently waiting for approval. Watch this space… In the meantime our weekly kickabouts with displaced people, enable the men on our team to develop skills, improve their English and acquire social capital, all whilst having some fun. 

The lovely, generous Pizza Pilgrims in Brighton gave us the opportunity to combine two of our favourite things – football and pizza – and also gave us their great space free of charge, with some glorious pizza for that essential post-match refueling! Much fun was had and we’re looking forward to working together more in the new year.


Away From Home at Pizza Pilgrims

Some of the Away From Home team at Pizza Pilgrims, Brighton


Away From Home played two matches against FC Hope of London, the first game at Crew Club in the summer with the return leg seeing us take a day trip to London on a glorious autumn day. They beat us this time (we won the first game earlier in the year!) but any disappointment was soon cast away by the food and friendly welcome at New Horizon Youth Centre, topped off with some salsa dancing at a street fiesta!


AFH and FC Hope at Crew Club

Away From Home (in red) and FC Hope at Crew Club


Away From Home team talk London

Away From Home made the trip to London for the return fixture


These boots were made for playing in…

Football boot and trainer donations have been essential to help us continue this work. The people we work with who are seeking asylum can be relocated with no notice, so a steady supply is always needed. It’s heartwarming to think that donations of pre-loved footwear enable people to have some joy in their lives and that the boots go with them as a symbol of the warm welcome they’ve received in Brighton. We try to locate refugee football teams in their new homes so they can continue to play with others. In 2023 VYD will be working towards gaining Sanctuary club status.  

Football boots

Donations of football boots and kit are always welcome


If you’d like to contribute some boots or kit, please contact our Operations Manager, Fi at

The work our amazing coaches put in on our Away From Home team led to us creating and issuing Inclusive Sport Leader awards digital badges. Digital badges are another area we want to develop across more of our projects in 2023.

Big thanks to everyone involved in supporting us. Rob Grim revolution, Maude Casey, Fishawack, Waitrose, Active Sussex, The Co-op Local Community fund, BHASVIC, Pizza Pilgrims, Crawley Town Foundation, Brighton College, The Catholic Diocese of Arundel & Brighton and everyone who has given their time, money or facilities to support what we do.

We couldn’t do it without you.

This is the true meaning of being #strongertogether.

Big love.

The VYD Team.

If you’d like to support VYD in its mission to make football and education free, fun and inclusive for the disenfranchised and marginalised, please drop Gary a line at