Episode 20 - David Duke

The founder of Street Soccer Scotland

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David DukeSummary intro

Founder of Street Soccer Scotland, an organisation that provides free football sessions for the socially excluded. He chats about its creation, homelessness, addiction, exercise, mental health & the importance of community.


[Music] Hello I’m Marcus Railton and this is the Scotscare podcast. Scotscare is the only charity dedicated to helping disadvantaged Scots in London through a range of support including mental health therapy, financial grants, advocacy, sheltered housing for older Scots, job coaching, social events, befriending and support for Children and Families. The Charity’s been running for 400 years to help break the cycle of poverty experienced by some Scots.

In this series of the scotscare podcast I’ll be chatting to celebrities and supporters of the charity that have also forged a life in the capital away from home and about the ups and downs that can bring.

Scotscare: supporting Scots away from home in London.

On the podcast today is David Duke, MBE David grew up in Govan in Glasgow, and battled homelessness before finding his way coaching kids football. He is the founder of street soccer Scotland and street soccer London, organizations that use the power of football to help young people and adults make positive changes in their lives. It’s a huge privilege and pleasure to have him on the program today.

ScotsCare helping to break the cycle of deprivation for Scots in London.

Hi David.

Hi Marcus how you doing?

I’m good, when you started Street Soccer which one came first was it London or Scotland that came first?

It’s Scotland, so Scotland was set up in 2009.

And when when was Street Soccer London?

Would have been exactly one month before the pandemic, so it was that early 2019 2020 you know I can’t remember Marcus, coronavirus had taken two years of my life.

When you set them up was was always your intention to have a kind of
you know the physical support network
who’s getting on the pitch and
exercising it was always your intention
to have a kind of emotional support
network as part of the the setup well
that that was I mean football was just
the you know football’s great and
obviously the benefits of playing
football is you know exercise and and
all that kind of stuff but actually the
purpose of street soccer was always to
to create communities for people and to
create support networks and and to make
sure that people feel part of something
you know
a lot of your players of experienced in
a really difficult times and often
they’ve had the energy with that alone
um and you know working a model is
actually and you’ve got a better chance
if you do it together and you know we
all need to be part of something in
party I think
um and that’s and that’s what street
soccer is all about you know using
football to bring people together build
relationships when I read a website the
ones that keep repeating are connected
and and connecting people and do you
think we’re just living in a world where
we have to have less community and fewer
connections to those around us because
when I remember growing up and I grew up
in Clyde Bank just outside Glasgow I had
I had I had a lot of connections a lot
of mates a lot of good families
and then when I moved to London I moved
on my own yeah and I I went in straight
into shift work and I was massively
isolated you know I spent a lot of time
where I was I’d start work at six in the
morning finish at two in the afternoon
and I would sit in parks and read books
and stuff and we do seem to live in a
world where we have fewer connections
now don’t we
yeah and I think I think it depends on
the community that you grew up in as
well I mean the queries are all changing
as well but I think when I when I look
back and we’re not bringing in terms of
growing up in govern
and as I say and I’ve got plenty of
friends and stuff like that and
everything else but
for making a neighborhood perspective
you know I don’t really know my
neighbors that well yeah
um no one really kind of engages and
maybe that’s your example you know from
from governing Glasgow where everybody
talks to everybody but
um I always remember just like
grown up when particularly people
started losing their jobs in the kind of
building and stuff like that that
the community would always rally around
you know someone was taking ill
you know members in the community about
there making sure they had something to
eat and all that or somebody lost their
job making sure that it was okay and
taking around kind of box of soup and
stuff like that I don’t see that as much
now but I’m sure it still exists
particularly in some of the close-up
communities but London and Edinburgh are
quite big kind of transient cities and
those people come here
um to study or to work and and then they
go or then they stay but they’ve not got
their Roots there yeah well this is a
you know I think I said this before and
I’ve spent so many years in London but I
still don’t really feel I don’t feel
like a Londoner even though I’ve been
here 20 plus years but when I go back to
Glasgow I don’t really feel like I
belong in Glasgow anymore because I’ve
been away so long and it’s it’s gonna
when you were talking about growing up
in govern
you know all the employment was with
John Brown shipyards and the singer swim
Machine Factory and I remember in
primary school they both shut down yeah
yeah they decimated it you know it
really our society was our community was
just knackled at that point all the kids
dads and the school were out of work
yeah and that’s why Community is so
important yeah and then the impact of
that has in the household because you
know the the workers in the house feel
looking they’re useless and worthless
and that isn’t a negative impact on
their well-being and mental health and
then something exactly today you know
alcohol and so on just to try and get
people food make people feel better you
know and then that kind of that just
start sucking The Snowball Effect in
terms of what people have dealt with
growing up I like the fact that you’re
very open on the website and and when
you talk about Street Soccer about the
mental health benefits you know I’ve got
nine-year-olds and we went through this
phase of it didn’t work didn’t they want
to go to school didn’t work so it became
quite problematic and then one day and
this isn’t a Magic Bullet but it just
changed things we got him on his bike
and we started cycling let’s go by the
time he got to school is his attitude
had changed and he would go into school
and then at the end of the day I’d cycle
and pick him up and by the time I got
him home his head was clear and he was
unhappy about being at schoolwind I
think that’s a big thing about Street
Soccer as well is about the mental
health benefits of exercise
totally totally and even I mean
that used the the same portion during
lock Bay during luck and stuff where I
started running again just because
started to feel really kind of
you know withdrawing and just getting
the you know finding it hard taking them
motivate myself to do normal stuff and I
think a lot of people felt that I mean
um to uncovered because I went from
being here then everybody
humans we all need social connection
um and I think you know combine that if
you combine people with exercise you
know Salvage running
you just feel so much better decision
making and all that you’re more upbeat
you you find yourself trying to and I
said trying to eat better
um just because you’re more active you
know and and that’s that’s just the way
it goes
Scott’s care
helping to break the cycle of
deprivation for Scots in London
how does Street Soccer work for kids who
want to get involved what’s the process
that they go from discovering you to
getting on the pitch
so Street Soccer is getting it to
OK in the target areas you know I don’t
work and then you know youth work so the
adult stuff predominantly is aimed
around kind of homelessness and mental
health and
getting addiction and so on working with
refugees basically people who are
you know missing out on that kind of
social maybe missing in that social
interaction or just looking for
something that’s going to build a
confidence and create a new network for
them so people just get involved by
either being referred from another
agency that are involved in or just you
know turning up you know there’s no
there’s not a complicated process you
turn up I mean you can literally just
stand up for the side of the pitch are
the adults looking to play football or
are the adults looking for something
else as well you know as in like
Friendship Community yeah I think about
it you’ll get guys that are attracted to
the football
aim or football something that they feel
that they can
achieve you know is something that they
know it’s it’s
um you know it’s something I’ve done in
the past but I think everyone comes from
different reasons so some people come
from Sport and then they can integrated
maybe not played or
look at the fitness isn’t that great so
they’re just going to ease themselves in
but just be part of it and build
themselves up and then others are going
to just come and play football and then
they’re gonna look onto the support and
so on offer do you get many adult
females yeah yeah we’ve got a women’s
uh so we’ve got women’s programs and
glad Squadron so and again you know
obviously the numbers aren’t as high
just because
women’s football now but you know we
were working with over 25 that those
kind of sport and football opportunities
around there
um but our women’s programs not just
about football so those skin that
exercise classes just kind of Boxer size
and all these things I think so that
that allows the same
people taking a you know try different
I’ve never played football that’s not
for me but actually they really enjoy
the exercise part and then from the room
inside the lot of that’s more around
you’ve got some great ambassadors you
know I think that was one of the things
that jumped out at me and you know it
was the Andy Robertson the Scotland
player Liverpool guy and how how
are you just going out and knocking on
doors and saying would you like to be an
ambassador for street soccer I mean how
are you getting the that’s a great name
to have
yeah I mean obviously in the early days
obviously said Alex Ferguson joined as
an ambassador and that was purely
Kinder reaching out to you know and all
of a sudden from governing stuff like
that as well
probably helped and then through Andy
was just gonna you know Andy’s very big
empties charity working myself you know
and does a lot of good things very much
a lot it’s under the radar but you know
try to help kids get involved in
football and stuff but yeah I’m just
kind of came across and you know we made
the asking you know for us you know
captain of Scotland and you know left
back for Liverpool is it’s pretty
special so you know we’ll donate to half
guys like Andy and
um and Son Alex as well you know These
Guys these are always taking the
communicate to new platforms you know
also guys like Andy who’s obviously this
is quite active on social and stuff like
that but you know
any anything I’ve spoke to people like
Andy and others you know involved in the
game they all want to do good they all
want to give back you know does this
League there’s a certain judgments
thrown against people because of how
much dim the air and stuff like that but
actually they’re just they’re just
normal people that you and I you know
and they want to do good then
particularly in Andy’s cases he’s doing
lots of great work in Scotland just now
in supporting children who maybe can’t
access the game make sure they get
access to it and and a lot more than
that as well
can we go back to right go back to the
beginning so how did how did Street
Soccer come about for you because I
think I think I get the impression that
football can have helped you helped you
emotionally and helped you your mental
health because you kind of in interviews
that I’ve read with you you’ve openly
spoken about
while a long time ago you had trouble
with alcohol so UT total now no I mean I
mean I think the back then you know so
so basically the story was you know I
grew up in govern
let’s go age 13 and then
basically just gonna floated about that
Mom and Dad spot my dad was an alcoholic
that’s we’re gonna so he can pass away
so he lost his dad passed away when I
was 18.
and um
Adam became homeless I was I was in the
kind of system for for three years and
during that time
you know it wasn’t just alcohol anything
at all to kind of get you through yeah
you know so you’re surrounded by you
know no no hope no energy nothing to do
you’re just trying to get yourself
through so when you’re living these
environments as people smoke with her
you know drinking and stuff like that so
I think when I was in that position you
know you were just trying to you didn’t
really care
you know you’re just drinking every day
and people just try to get through
because you’re in too much pain you’re
trying to mask it out and then
they obviously got involved with the
football myself you know and started
training with Scotland was World Cup
team and that just allowed me that the
platform to
to Siri okay actually if I want to do
this I can’t do that yeah so then you
obviously I don’t I don’t drink every
day you know and I kind of very aware of
it you know I still go out now and again
and stuff like like most people but back
it was a bit an issue but that but I
think the issue wasn’t so much
the alcohol or whatever it was actually
just doing the more the situation
because why wouldn’t you take something
that’s going to take the pain away yeah
make you feel better yeah right if
you’ve got a cold you’re going to take
you know you know the pain in that and
that’s all it was it was it was it was
always over something to numb the pain
and once that pain went away and I
didn’t didn’t need to
to I mean
um and then also when you combine that
and having responsibility because I
started coaching kids football and stuff
like that so you know back in the day
when you’re in the hospital to see you
you may begin to you know smoking harsh
or taking Valium and stuff like that but
they said that the day I started you
know you know coaching kids football was
the last day that ever
took anything you know even to the
stages because suddenly I’ve had
responsibility and it was a role model
so I had to kind of change and it was it
wasn’t easy but I did it you know and
and I think that’s the the key thing you
know when people people always see
people like when you look at people in
addiction and stuff like that or you
know on the street and you see them a
pure condition you know people just see
them in that present state but they
don’t see all the pain or what they’re
going through
you know like to see all the pain and
what they’ve been through and all that
they would recognize why some people are
in that position
and it’s not until people are allowed
the chance to heal and have
better networks and better relationships
than they can actually go on and you
know look after themselves because as I
say when you’re in that description you
don’t care about your health you don’t
care about your life you’ll just try to
survive every day and and you’re just
trying to get through easy I mean it’s
all about you know Finding what’s the
quickest way to to put your head down
you know I was wondering when you talked
about your father and it’s just as a
personal thing for me like that your
father died
um when you were 18 and it was alcohol
related my brother died
um alcohol related when he was 32. and I
I kind of almost felt there was a
responsibility there that I could have
failed them in a way you know and I go
through phases of saying you know trying
to get them into Hospital trying to get
them into a rehab or try to do something
for him yeah and
you know ultimately never what
and I just wondered if you felt that
only I’m only asking you this on a
personal level whether you felt that be
your dad whether you did you try and fix
it you know in a way yeah I mean I think
where the guilt for me came from is that
came down
went my separate away from my dad for
about a year I can just let him do it
because I was 18 now and all my Powers
were going to University and doing stuff
now and I just had to break away to try
give us you give myself some head space
and trying anything to sort stuff out
sounds like a kid so I mean
so I had about a girl but see at the end
of the day
and it obviously it’s back then you know
you mental health wasn’t discussed you
know and certainly came to let the
Addiction Services weren’t present yeah
you know it was just it was just the
norm people like to drink driving but
there was a bit ago during that kind of
time a homelessness but I quickly
learned that you know I I was perilous
you know and my dad had an illness which
he couldn’t find the cure for yeah and I
think it’s important that we think of it
like that as an illness rather than just
somebody getting on the on the Lash
every day yeah because you know I think
my dad drank a lot my mom drank a lot my
brother drank and I you know I’m not tea
total but it’s kind of like you say
earlier I do watch it I do kind of thing
yeah hold on just you yeah I mean it’s
it’s wondering yeah I mean it’s a social
thing and it’s just like you know it’s
there’s always a time and a place
you know and if it feels right then
enjoy yourself but you know the end of
the day you don’t have a chance when
you’re so busy and you’re constantly
working and stuff so
on holiday and stuff it’s nice to let
yourself go about it and just kind of
enjoy it but
usually make sure you’re on the go for
for work
Scots care
deporting Scots away from home in London
let me talk about something else I’d
like to talk about money in football
because you touched on it a bit earlier
where where there’s crazy money at
football when you look at transfer fees
of like Jack grealish and 100 million or
Harry MaGuire and 8 million how does
Street Soccer work is explain to me what
is a social because I read it’s a social
Enterprise what does that mean because
it’s not a charity
a company and a charity so a social
Enterprise is basically using a kind of
business approach minus any profit so in
a normal company just to just say
was a normal company I would be a
shareholder right
assets and stuff would donate to donated
to similar local codes
so it’s just basically identifying that
you know social entrepreneurship right
as you know it’s it’s obviously you know
a lot of what we do is charitable you
know but we also do events and we have
sponsorship deals and stuff like that
you know you’re going to negotiate my
brand just as just like any football
club and then if you were to look ahead
have you does the street soccer grow
organically for you or do you think do
you want in five years time this is this
is where we want to take it this is
where we want to take it as a brand
I think I think about both
I think
those things we’ve always excuse me I
think those things as we’ve always
wanted to do like the center and stuff
like that we’ve managed to make that
I think an element you just need to
change the I mean when I speak to the
team but the only thing I can give them
in terms of Target is
every day we try and find somebody who
needs us yeah and then every day we try
and make the experience better for the
players who are involved
so on the henna
across the front line that’s the message
you know I don’t Dazzle people with big
numbers and like fancy strategies are
saying look well somebody know who could
be doing me being part of something how
do we find them
and are you still as Hands-On as you
were in day one it’s just because as
it’s grown and like you were saying in
Edinburgh and London does it yeah does
that kind of push you further away from
the front lines yeah sadly I mean I mean
the front lines kind of where I feel
most happy but um
yeah the guys that we’ve got I mean 80
of the team have lived experience
um so we’ve got a good strong solid kind
of team
on the ground so that they are more
incapable working there carrying on and
and I’ll just kind of floating every now
and again and my rules more
to thinking the big picture stuff and
looking in a strategically where we’re
going next and try to engage
new donors in in new brands and stuff
like that and and make sure that we’re
in in kind of stay the good thing about
being together not in the front line is
you can look back looking from a
and see all the movement parts that’s
happening maybe at government levels at
local Authority levels with other
Charities and to actually where where
can we have the biggest impact where can
we support The Wider change
it seems a world away from you know what
you’re talking about as a grown up in
govern you know in your 40s now are you
are you comfortable don’t be seeing that
in camera Marcus
and your very early 40s are you
comfortable in your own skin in your own
head these days yeah I mean I’m shocked
I speak I don’t know like because I’ve
been babysitting but um
yeah yeah I’m happy I mean shooting is
there’s an assertive everyone asleep
everybody wants what they don’t have
to I mean then sometimes we don’t
take that moment to say right well
here’s here’s what I’ve got yeah you
know and and actually appreciate that
I mean I I’m lucky that I’ve got a job
that I love
um I’ve got a group of staff and team
around me
who feel like family driving
and and I’m inspired every day every
time I speak to players and see players
on the journey so do you take time off
or just because when you’re in a job
like that that you love are you tempted
to go at it seven days a week yeah and
then it’s been like that for a while but
I’m starting to get better
um but it’s one of the ones it’s like
it’s trying to switch off but I mean
luckily today we’ve got a really we’ve
grown every bit over the last you know
13 years you know and now we’re in a
position where I could probably
what I can take a few weeks off and yeah
you know nothing’s going to go wrong
I’ve got people in place taking a steal
the ship
but yeah it’s been good I mean the last
last few weeks have been crazy looks
I’ve just had covered for two weeks and
then right in the event and just like so
this weekend I’m going to chill
um and then get ready for the Monday
David best of luck for the future and
thank you so much you’ve been on the
Scots care podcast it’s it’s been great
talking to you oh we’ll see you later
love you bye bye
sing London Scots with financial grants
welfare advice counseling sheltered
housing jobs coaching and family support



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