Crystal Palace FC helps girl out of prison by giving her football coaching future

Zuleika Williams has turned her life around due to the Aspire to Employability course

Zuleika Williams has turned her life around due to the Aspire to Employability course

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Croydon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Chief reporter covering Croydon

A youth who spent time in prison after turning to crime to try and make money to support her family has turned her life around - thanks to Crystal Palace FC.

Zuleika Williams never thought she would do anything to do with sport but during her time in prison last year she became focused on bettering herself.

She is now working in administration for the Eagles as well as training to become a football coach.

Zuleika said: "I made a stupid mistake, trying to do the right thing by doing the wrong thing.

"If I had not found out about the course I would be sitting at home on jobseekers, but I’m not, I’m out working six days a week and I love it."

When she completed her sentence in November last year, the probation service recommended the Aspire to Engage Employability course.

The course is run by the football club’s foundation and supported by a grant to Croydon Council from the City Bridge Trust.

Over the 12 week course she completed her level one football coaching badge and is planning on doing more.

The 21-year-old juggles her job with caring for her grandad, a task made easier by support she receives from Aspire to Engage.

She said: "I don’t think they know how much they have helped me.

"They have helped me with my confidence and time management and just being relaxed with life.

Aspire to Engage supports young people through structured activities around football coaching, sport, media and culture.

Young people receive one to one mentoring and counselling as well as access to volunteering opportunities through the project’s links with the football industry and grassroots community organisations.

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