Newcastle’s Neils Kegg Takes ParkLives into a League of His Own
The 30-year-old volunteer, who devotes his spare time to helping young people get to and from football sessions from ParkLives, had the idea of taking a regular game and turning it into a 5-a-side league. The result was overwhelming, and earned him an award nomination for his contribution and generosity to the local community.
How did you hear about ParkLives?
It all started with a google search to find something to do for my younger brother, and we ended up attending a launch for ParkLives. While I was there I met Liz from Coca-Cola, who introduced me to Marguerite from ParkLives, who then told me there would be free football training sessions starting in my local area, Elswick Park.
What made you want to volunteer?
When I took my brother for the first time I knew all the children there, and I gradually started helping out with the sessions. It wasn’t long before Marguerite asked if I wanted to volunteer, and I quickly accepted her offer. I love the feeling of being about to give something positive back to the local community.
How did the Sunday 5-a-side league come about?
During one of our sessions for 6 to 12-year-olds we heard some of the older boys complaining that there was nothing for them. So I decided to try and organise a 5-a-side league for them on a Sunday, expecting maybe two or three teams, but I ended up with a total of six! The league was a huge success in the community, and we now have more than a hundred children attending these sessions.
How did you spread the word about the league?
I used Facebook and created two pages for the sessions, which now have a combined total of 600 fans.
What do you like about football?
Football is an important sport because anyone, no matter what their age, sex, race or sexuality, can participate and have fun.
What three qualities does an aspiring football player need?
Self-respect, teamwork and discipline.
How has ParkLives had an impact on your life? It’s had an impact both physically and mentally, giving me the confidence to keep taking part and keep going. When I oversee the sessions it makes me feel proud of what I’ve been able to achieve with the help of ParkLives, for if they hadn’t started the sessions in the first place I’d never be doing what I am today. There’s nothing for children in the area, so seeing their faces when they’re playing, meeting new people and enjoying themselves – for free – is great.