Hawks Heroes programme

The Crew Club’s Hawks Heroes programme was a 10-week community-based grassroots project that aimed to get men living in Whitehawk, one of the most socially and economically challenging neighbourhoods in England, back into football to reduce health risks and improve psychological and emotional wellbeing.
VYD structured and delivered the 10 week football programme at Crew Club, running two hour sessions every Monday and Wednesday.

What did we do?

Over ten weeks the project delivered:
  • 20 x 2-hour football training sessions delivered by VYD’s Kevin Green
  • 3 friendly matches against Montpelier Villa U18s team, 2nd team and Veterans.

How did we track change?

Before the first coaching session basic health data was gathered from each participant, including height, weight, information about levels of activity and engagement in risky health behaviours. A visual analogue scale was used to score participants mood and level of social connection. Each participant (the numbers stayed steady at around 16 across the whole programme) undertook a bleep test at the beginning of the first training session, which some found very hard – and for good reason!
The NHS online health check tool was used to calculate the heart age and health category (Red/Amber/Green) for each participant.

What did difference did Hawk’s Heroes make?

Of the 23 participants aged between 18 and 46 who registered pre-programme.
  • 74% were overweight or obese – total team weight 168 stone 11 pounds (1072kg)
  • 78% had a heart age that was older than their age in years.
  • The combined actual age of all participants was 782 years and their combined heart age was 814 years, a difference of 32 years.
  • 40% rated ‘Red’ and 26% rated ‘Amber’ health category
  • 48% rated their mood 5 or below on a scale of 1-10 (1=very sad and down, 5=in the middle, not happy and not sad, 10=extremely happy)
  • 52% rated their level of social connection 5 or below on a scale of 1-10 (1=I do not see anyone regularly, 5=I sometimes see people but would like to see them more frequently, 10=I see a lot of my friends and family)

At the beginning of the project participants completed a bleep test to assess their current level of fitness.

In the final training session 17 participants completed a post-programme questionnaire and provided basic health data.

Quality of the programme

  • 100% of participants rated their enjoyment of the programme a 9 or 10.
  •  100% rated the quality of the coaching between 8-10.
  • 100% rated the quality of the support they received from staff 9 or 10.

Programme outcomes

 Total weight of team 160 stone 13 pounds (1022kg) – total weight loss of 7 stone 10Ibs.
  • The groups hearts were 8 years younger at the end of the programme than they were at the start.
  • Average 16.5% improvement in beep test scores – the biggest improvement was 55%.
  • 100% rated their mood between 8 or above when at the start 48% rated their mood 5 or below.
  • 100% rated their level of social connection 7 or above when at the start 52% rated their level of social connection 5 or below.
  • 100% of participants either Agreed or Strongly Agreed that participating in Hawk’s Heroes made them fitter, stronger, sleep better, cope better with negative emotions, reduce health harming behaviours (such as smoking and drinking) and made them feel less stressed.
  • 1 participant’s life was saved

Comments from participants from interviews.

‘If it wasn’t for Hawk’s Heroes and me going on it, they wouldn’t have found out I had cancer. I just found out from me starting the course, so it saved my life.’ (Hawk’s Heroes footballer)
‘I was in a bad place when I first heard about Hawk’s Heroes. I wasn’t a weekly drinker, but I was a binger with drink and drugs. I’d done the AA meetings and the counselling, but I needed something to focus on. Something like this. It was a perfect opportunity for me at the time and the last ten weeks I’ve not even thought about it. It’s given me a goal, something to focus on.’  (Hawk’s Heroes footballer)
‘Everyone knows they need to be a bitter fitter and eat a bit healthier, but when you get to a certain age it’s hard to find the motivation. It’s hard work to do it on your own but with a programme like this, if you don’t turn up for a session people get in touch and it makes you want to go back. Being part of a team has been brilliant.’ (Hawk’s Heroes footballer)
I’ve suffered in the past with depression and the better you are physically the better it is for your mental health. I feel a lot fitter and my attitude is a lot better. Before I would have sat in and watched the telly but now, I’ve got extra energy. I want to so something, go to the park with my kids and have a kick about.’ (Hawk’s Heroes footballer)
‘I’ve noticed a massive difference with my mental health. I just want to do so much more. I was speaking to the coach the other day and even opening your letters and tackling your bills. I feel like I don’t mind dealing with my life now, before it was a lot harder.’ (Hawk’s Heroes footballer)
‘It’s brilliant. It’s made me feel alive again.’ (Hawk’s Heroes footballer)
Hawks Heroes was a programme funded to the Crew Club by Nesta as part of a social movement project across the Whitehawk, Bristol and Manor Farm Estates.
The Crew Club is a dynamic community centre in the heart of Whitehawk providing events, projects, activities and a safe space for young people and adults in Whitehawk. For more information, visit CrewClub
The statistics, research and report above was complied by Carlie Goldsmith.

Traineeships in Football

We work in partnership with GBMET College and deliver Traineeships for young people aged 19+ who are either out of work or need to retake their GCSEs. Through this scheme, they not only retake subjects but also , but take their level 1 Btec in sport as well as gaining their level 1 in football through VYD’s partner club, Montpelier Villa FC.

We provide Traineeships in football which includes workplace and mentoring opportunities in coaching and playing football and through education, delivered in collaboration with GBMET college.

The local community benefits from us providing expertise in football coaching and mentoring as well as business, marketing and football administration. Access to these opportunities and skills, enables this community to gain confidence, learn new skills such as communication and teamwork and learn about how to run and market a football club.

At the end of the placement, they will have nationally recognised qualifications, including their FA level 1 coaching badge, meaning they can seek paid employment as qualified football coaches along with their studies and outcomes achieved with the college. They can also then move into the Player Development Centre that VYD manage, to enhance their coaching skills and continue their football education.

Player Development Centre

Montpelier Villa FC’s Player Development Centre is a fresh new approach to youth football development in Sussex – and England.

With a new lead professional academy coach, Kevin Green from Zona Football joining the club and the new 3G with stand and lights at Falmer Sports Complex, it has allowed the club to take a look at how the coaching is executed right across the club with a view to feeding into the u18s and, ultimately, the first team, both of whom are in the Southern Combination League.

The PDC provides many benefits to Villa players, parents and members, below we list just a few of the main highlights:

  • At least two training sessions per week and league matches at weekends – one extra session a week with Kevin
  • Structured individual learning plans for each player monitored by Kevin with the managers
  • Cohesive playing philosophy and coaching plan for all teams running through the club
  • Fun, safe, engaging and high quality environment for players to develop their footballing skills