A talented football freestyler from Robert Gordon University (RGU) will impress Aberdeen supporters with a demonstration of his soccer skills at Pittodrie this weekend.
Fourth year Accounting and Finance undergraduate student Zahed Chesty (23) will perform his freestyle tricks and flicks in front of the Merkland stand before kick-off at Aberdeen Football Club’s final league match of the season against Hearts on Saturday, May 18.
Based at RGU:SPORT, Streetsport was established in 2006 and uses activities and sports to provide alternatives for young people in their own communities during the evenings. Freestyle football is one of the activities offered by Streetsport which is coached by Zahed who volunteers his own free time to support the project.
Many of the young people who attend Streetsport sessions have been given free tickets for Saturday’s match and will be able to see Zahed’s striking performance which is part of the project’s ongoing relationship with Aberdeen Football Club (AFC).
Originally from Groningen in the Netherlands, Zahed has honed his freestyle football skills over a number of years and has worked with the Streetsport project to inspire young people to take up the sport which is growing in popularity and now stages championship events around the world.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to performing in front of the Aberdeen supporters this weekend and showing everyone what I can do. Freestyle football is growing in popularity and by showcasing my skills to young football fans and those who attend the Streetsport sessions I hope to encourage others to give it a go.
“With some dedication and perseverance it is possible to learn freestyle football skills. As well as the positive benefits the project has for the wider community it also teaches young people that they can pick up new skills and abilities, in any activity through hard work.”
Following the initial success of Streetsport its partnership network has grown to include a number of local companies and agencies in its annual calendar of activities across the north-east.
The overall aim of the project is to reduce instances of youth crime and anti-social behaviour, promote health and wellbeing and encourage inclusivity through sport, physical activity and creative endeavour.
Participants at Streetsport events use ‘skills cards’ which were developed in collaboration with Communication Design students at Gray’s School of Art as a way of engaging, motivating and developing their techniques over a set period of time. By setting weekly objectives the young people are ‘positively diverted’ from anti-social behaviour and encouraged to focus their time and attention on developing ball skills and earning rewards.
High levels of participation and attendance are incentivised and rewarded with prizes and certificates and opportunities to participate on ratified coaching courses such as the Scottish Football Association Early Touches Certificate.
Streetsport has also assisted participants with the development of their communication, interpersonal and soft skills including leadership; interaction; negotiation; team working and compromise and improved opportunities for education and employability whilst enabling members of the community to volunteer and gain valuable experience and qualifications that lead to positive destinations.
Andrew Wood, Streetsport Development Officer at RGU: SPORT, said: “The Streetsport initiative has been a tremendous success and we have worked with a number of partners to engage with a young people across Aberdeen to promote positive decisions and outcomes.
“The project fosters a sense of social value and belonging within communities and has demonstrated a number of measurable impacts within a number of areas including crime reduction; skills development; partnership building and volunteering.
“We have a strong relationship with Aberdeen Football Club and are proud that a large number of young people who attend the sessions have been rewarded with free tickets for the match against Hearts this weekend. Zahed has been busy perfecting his freestyle routine which will feature new tricks and skills that we haven’t seen before.”
Ally Procker, Head of Community at Aberdeen Football Club, said: “At AFC in the Community we are delighted to be working in partnership with RGU and Streetsport to assist in promoting what is a healthy, positive activity that is both challenging and fun. We are always on the lookout for positive ideas of ‘community entertainment’ aimed at improving the overall match-day experience and we would encourage other individuals and groups to come forward with ideas they may have.”
A selection of videos which showcase Zahed’s freestyle football skills are available on YouTube through the ‘StreetsportRGU’ channel and can be viewed via the below links:
For more information about Streetsport, please visit: www.streetsport.org
Communications Officer | Health and Sport
Robert Gordon University
Tel: (01224) 262389