Asha Rage, from Birmingham, runs ‘Dream Chasers FC’, a football club helping to get young people off the streets and provide them with new work opportunities.
Asha was determined to make a difference in her local community, and help those who have experienced a tougher start in life. After enrolling on a coaching course at Aston Villa, she was inspired to harness the power of football to help give young people a positive outlet and set up ‘Dream Chasers FC’ in 2016. Since then, the club has positively impacted over 3,000 individuals, through various initiatives such as mentorship, workshops, and sports programs. Presently, over 300 young people participate in the weekly sports sessions, which include football and basketball. One key component of Asha’s work is providing safe spaces for girls and women, particularly from the Muslim community, to participate in football. With female coaches guiding them, she aims to empower these girls and women, breaking down cultural barriers and boosting their confidence.
As well as sports and a daily youth club, Asha also runs interactive workshops in collaboration with the local policing team, to help educate young people about important subjects including drug and crime awareness, gang violence and knife crime. These sessions help foster mutual understanding and trust between the police and young community members.
Asha is looking to establish a unified facility to combine the youth club and sports centre, that will help to enhance the capacity of ‘Dream Chasers FC’ to serve local young people and support their central focus of uplifting the community.
Asha’s award coincides with the start of the Women’s World Cup.
In a personal letter to Asha, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“From your weekly sports sessions and community litter picks, to your innovative “Coffee with a Coppa” sessions, you are connecting young people with their community. You are educating them about drug and crime awareness and fostering mutual understanding and trust.
“As we enjoy the Women’s World Cup this summer, I was also inspired to learn how you are empowering more women and girls to play football, breaking down cultural barriers and boosting their confidence.”
“Receiving the Points of Light award is a deeply humbling experience. It’s a testament not just to my efforts, but to the unyielding dedication and passion of the entire ‘Dream Chasers FC’ team. This award is dedicated to every individual who has been a part of our journey, every young person who found solace in our initiatives, and every community member who supported us. It serves as a reminder that when we strive to make a difference, no matter how small, the impact resonates far and wide. This recognition strengthens our resolve to continue empowering our community and inspires us to reach greater heights. Thank you.”