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Rio Ferdinand Foundation - Goncalo, 17, Brixton

Established as a registered charity in 2012, the Rio Ferdinand Foundation works collaboratively with young people and communities to deliver progression pathways aimed at ensuring young people are socially mobile and empowered to be independent, take control of their lives and achieve their full potential.

 Goncalo Ornelas, 17, Brixton

I realise that respect isn’t like a dictatorship. It’s more like a friendship.

Goncalo first got involved with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation by attending our Free Football session in Ferndale, Brixton.

A keen footballer, he regularly attended our sessions and showed a keen approach to engaging early on as he would help the regular younger participants on how they could develop their skills.

When being approached on potentially becoming a volunteer, he gladly accepted the role.

He stated at the start of his personal development plan that he did lack confidence, however since volunteering, Goncalo had said:

My confidence has grown so much because I have been exposed to opportunities which has used my influence and opinions.

Whilst regular volunteering at the Football session, Goncalo was also keen to gain experience at our Wednesday Youth Club sessions in Brixton. He was keen to learn different aspects of Youth Work and felt engaging with participants in a different sector would help develop his confidence as well as giving him more experience on how to engage with others.

Although football is my passion, the Rio Ferdinand Foundation encouraged me to learn different type of Youth Work as it will help my overall development. I was nervous at the start as it would mean meeting new participants, however once I was engaging with everyone, I felt more confident in my ability, which was helped me in other routes of life in general.

Goncalo is now a vital volunteer for Rio Ferdinand Foundation and we are currently in the process of recruiting him as a paid member of staff on both of our sessions.

On the difference Goncalo feels he has made by volunteering, he says:

It brings the community more together, also getting my peers together for positive activities. I can be proud to say that I have introduced other young people and peers to value their health and take more active roles in sports through football training.

A role model to others in our sessions, he is a friend to participants but also has the respect as a volunteer coach. We are excited to mentor Goncalo further as we are confident that he will continue to be a fantastic asset to our sessions and the community.