Foundation Focus: Fontaine Parchment
Fontaine Parchment aged 13, arrived at The Albion Foundation (TAF) Kicks project back in 2013 accompanying some of his friends and brother to The Albion Foundation Community Sports Hall Wednesday evening session.
At the time, Fontaine came in tow with his older brother, Laquaan who attended Kicks and particularly engaged in music production. Fontaine however was a relatively quiet character that loved to participate in football. Growing up in Smethwick, part of a single parent family posed many challenges for Fontaine during his teenage years including exposure to gangs, anti-social behaviour and youth crime. He said ‘I wouldn’t choose to live in Smethwick because there is a lot of tension between different ethnicities which form gangs’.
When deprivation is judged by average rank, Sandwell is ranked 12th most deprived out of 326 authorities. Sandwell’s overall ranks of average score and rank have seen a decrease, the rank of income and employment scales have worsened. These measures identify districts with large numbers of people experiencing deprivation – so Sandwell has a relatively high volume of people experiencing income and employment deprivation. When assessing the income deprivation affecting children index, Sandwell ranked 11 out of 326 authorities; compared to its neighbouring borough Dudley – ranked 93rd.
Fontaine lives within the town labelled as ‘Smethwick’ within Sandwell borough where the ethnic breakdown is as follows: White British = 38% and Asian Indian 16%, Black Caribbean only being represented by 6% constituting as a minority group. In addition; 8% of Smethwick are deemed that their general health is not good and 34% of Smethwick have no qualifications. Compared to 7.5% nationally, in Sandwell 13.9% of 16 – 24 year olds are not in education, employment or training. In addition, 6.8% of the Smethwick population claim Job Seekers Allowance, compared to 3.2% in Sandwell and the Nationally 1.5%. These factors can contribute to: low self-esteem, lack of career ambition, truancy and crime for young people. (Sandwell Trends SMBC Public Health data 2015).
Whilst still at school, Fontaine soon became a regular participant to the session, achieving excellent attendance and quickly building a rapport with the Kicks staff both at TAF sports hall and Hadley Stadium sessions. When interviewed Fontaine stated “I came along to Kicks with my mates as I wanted something to do, with no money, Kicks was great because I can play for free”.
Such opportunities that Kicks has provided for Fontaine include: Captaining Albion Kicks in the National Cup, visits to West Ham, Everton, Liverpool and Arsenal, numerous Premier League match days including Manchester City and Chelsea this season, Live the Kicks Dream (tournament on The Hawthorns pitch – http://thealbionfoundation.co.uk/?p=24482), hosted other Kicks clubs including Nottingham Forest, Wolves and Aston Villa, and attended educational workshops including equality, gangs, weapons and extremism.
Fontaine, now 16, stated that he didn’t have the most positive of schooling experience at Hollylodge Academy in Smethwick. He said ‘I was quite academic and liked to learn. I enjoyed playing sport and always took it seriously however, I dropped the subject because I didn’t like the teacher – he didn’t understand me’. Despite his experience at school, challenges and barriers, Fontaine is awaiting his GCSE grades this summer however, he is predicted B’s in all subjects.
Earlier in the year, Kicks Coordinator Hayley James referred Fontaine to the Street Football Association training programme where, this summer he is engaging in street football training and workshops – designed to develop both football and functional life skills – interwoven with the delivery of other training and qualifications. The programme, hosted at St Georges Park – the home of football and National football squads – provides unique experiences and opportunities for all players with the emphasis on personal development and specialist street football skills.
Part of the programme, Fontaine also received an inspirational seminar from Troy Townsend, father of Premier League footballer Andros, who speaks no behalf of Kick It Out. After impressing with his attitude and application, Fontaine will now go on to represent England Street Football at the international tournament in Portugal in September. He said ‘I can’t thank you enough for putting my name forward for this project. I can’t believe that I am going to Portugal!’.
Hayley James, Employability and Out Of Hours Coordinator said “Fontaine has become a great example of the pathways, support and opportunities that we, at the Foundation can provide. He has become an outstanding role model to his peers and participants demonstrating commitment, leadership and enthusiasm”.
Fontaine has applied to Sandwell Academy Sixth Form to study B-Tech Sport, Maths and Physics A-Levels. He is eager to learn to drive and has the ambition to become a rail or structural engineer which he is hoping to obtain through an apprenticeship.
Fontaine said “Kicks is great – it gives opportunities for everyone no matter what ability you are. It has sessions throughout the week which are free and relaxed. You get to play football alongside your mates, new and old. I have had opportunities such as playing in the National Cup, visiting football grounds, educational workshops and being a part of the Street Football programme which I wouldn’t have had without Kicks”.