Solidarity Soccer Case Study: Helen McKenna

We spoke with Solidarity Soccer attendee, Helen McKenna, about her experiences attending the weekly innovative, informal women’s football training engaging women (16+) of any experience and ability in non-competitive football.

Solidarity Soccer is a great introduction to our alternative ethos, playing style and approach as a club and runs at the U-Mix Centre, Wednesdays, 7-8pm. Get in touch to get involved!


AFC Unity: In a few words, how would you describe Solidarity Soccer to someone who hasn’t been?

Helen: Football skills and games with a really friendly group where you’re made to feel welcome regardless of experience or current ability and everyone’s efforts are valued. Also, it’s fun!

AFC Unity: Do you have any stories that stand out from your time of being involved in Solidarity Soccer?

Helen: One week a coach on another pitch was constantly berating his team. It made me really angry and brought home to me how precious it was to have found a group where you’re respected and where it’s OK to make the mistakes that you need to make in order to improve.

AFC Unity: Has Solidarity Soccer had an impact on your outside football life?

Helen: It’s had a very positive impact and has led to less of my life being outside football! After years of panic attacks and depression my exercise had become very limited and I’d lost interest in things I used to enjoy. These sessions provided a safe space to get back into playing and reminded me how much I’ve always loved football. Finding that spark again has become a major part of my recovery and I’m now a volunteer football coach with Brunsmeer Awareness FC, a mental health friendly football team.

AFC Unity: Has Solidarity Soccer helped you with 11-a-side football at all?

Helen: It’s reminded me how much I miss playing it!

AFC Unity: If you could pick one word to describe Solidarity Soccer what would it be?

Helen: Inclusive.

AFC Unity: What has been your favourite skill to learn and why?

Helen: Cruyff turn, because I now know I’ve been doing it wrong for 30 years!

AFC Unity: Anything else to add?

Helen: Thank you! Solidarity Soccer has been genuinely life-changing.

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