I was at Wandsworth IDAS when I first heard about AIR Sports Network, I was in an abstinence day programme and was hearing a lot about a football and support programme from the other guys in the programme so I thought I’d give it a go.
At the time I was really struggling with life, I was coming off Cannabis but had already lost my partner and kids, I was lost, had no purpose and was suffering from anxiety and depression. I had started smoking cannabis at 12 and didn't finish recovery until I was 34. By then I’d become a selfish person, my addiction had taken over everything, it was more important than any job, my house or even family. I had no focus and nothing to look forward to, I didn’t feel capable of much and was at the bottom. I had lost everything.
When I went along, the staff took me under their wing, they convinced me I had lots of reasons to change my life around. They spoke to my partner and helped me to show her I was serious about change and was capable of it. They gave her regular updates on my progress and how well I was doing. This was a big part in me getting back with my partner and being a positive part of my kids lives again.
The programme worked with me on recognising my potential, helped me realise that things worth having - I had to work for and that a positive attitude goes a long long way. I began to understand that I wasn't going to be handed a changed life, I had to work for it. I learnt to take responsibility for my own change and when I began to take charge, things began to happen.
Things began to change when we won a tournament, it was my first taste of success and achieving something, I knew then that I could do more. I felt great and began to respect myself and what I could achieve, this really helped me learn to respect my family and those around me.
With AIR Sports Network support I went to South Thames College and completed a Health and Social Care course. I haven't looked back since. I got involved with the NEXT project in Hackney and then completed a personal development course. I could never have done this without the support of the staff at ASN. At this time I realised I wanted to work with people who had experiences similar to mine, I volunteered with CRI and got involved with a local youth club as a leader.
About 18 months ago I won a Jack Petchey Leaders award which was amazing, I was in a good place I could never have seen myself in 12 months ago. I’ve been clean for 3 years and AIR Sports Network got me on that road, they believed in me and I began to believe in myself.
I’m volunteering with ex-offenders now and I'm using my experiences and what I learned from the team in my work, I use AIR Sports Network as an example of what’s possible with work and commitment and an open mind. I would say go for it 100%, there’s lots you can learn and it can help you change your life. I got my family, my pride and my life back. What can it do for you?