I felt like I had stepped into another world … and in several ways, I had. Here I was, with my adult son, Ben, visiting us from Los Angeles, and both of us, albeit strangers, were being honoured and celebrated by strangers.
We had come to Princes Park, the home of Dartford Football Club. Dartford (‘the Darts’) was about to play Hungerford Town in the National South league. And I was there to visit my friend and Outlier Group member, Alan Dean.
We were greeted warmly by the Chairman and staff, and a panel interviewed my son about what he had been doing in Los Angeles, and what it was like to live there. Then, our hosts gave us a tour of the stadium before the match started.
Ben was invited to join the welcome tunnel, applauding players from both teams as they trotted out onto the pitch. But the honour didn’t end there. As a final flourish before the game started, our hosts asked Ben to join them in the centre circle to pose in a photo opportunity with the match referee.
And who were our hosts? There were all teenage students from Kent schools!
They are part of a media team of a not-for-profit organisation called 4Roles4Goals; a company set up by Alan and his business partner, Nicola Coppen. The genius of 4Roles4Goals is that it adds value to Young People, Schools, the Community and Business – the four roles – working together.
I would say that there is another group that is impacted positively by this initiative: families. Before the match, I was talking to one of the parents. He described to me the transformation he saw in his daughter, and how she has grown visibly in confidence.
Before she was someone who preferred to be in the background, now she thinks nothing of going to the team and pulling out one of the players for an interview.
He went on to explain how his company had moved to Dartford, and his firm was one of the early commercial sponsors of the club, resulting in his company receiving over 30,000 positive tweets. Not bad business either!
As we drove away, Ben just shook his head in disbelief at how they had called him up as a VIP. It was a powerful illustration to me how we all need to be celebrated.
Also, there is something about our society thinking outside of the box, outside of the categories we make for ourselves. 4Roles4Goals shows that everyone can win.