The St. Matthew’s Project offers free, structured sports and coaching sessions in a safe, friendly environment to young people aged from 3 to 25. St. Matthew’s F.C is an F.A Charter Standard club (London Charter Standard Club of the Year 2014) but the St. Matthew’s Project is much more than just a football club, delivering a wide range of activities and development opportunities and offering support to young people beyond the football pitch.
SMFC Club Ethos
For many youth football clubs nowadays the emphasis is very much on young players ‘getting signed’ or ‘turning pro’, with coaches selling a dream that effectively doesn’t exist. While some of these clubs have a high turnover of boys gaining entry into pro club academies, the stark reality remains that statistically only 1 out of every 100 players actually signed to an academy will go on to play professionally at any level, from the Premier League down to the National League. And whilst several boys and girls have actually progressed into academies and centres of excellence from the SMP, even gaining scholarships and contracts in some instances, we have also witnessed first-hand the often devastating impact being released from academies can have on young players. The Project Coordinator was a registered Premier League scout with a London club for 10 years, so we have a thorough understanding of how academies and scouting networks operate.
An additional concern for us is that a growing number of parents and guardians who can ill afford it are being persuaded to fork out hundreds of pounds in fees to some youth football clubs in pursuit of this ‘dream’. This makes us all the more proud that since the creation of SMFC in the 2005-06 season, the annual signing-on fee has remained the same at £10, enough to cover our insurance and league and F.A admin costs. Unfortunately, some parents and would-be players seem to view this in the context of us being some kind of ‘Poundland’ club as opposed to the ‘Harrods’ of those that charge the Earth. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We simply believe that youth football is still about young players of mixed abilities coming together and enjoying their football as a team, as friends – win, lose or draw. While it is increasingly hard to compete with the so-called elite teams, we are pleased that our teams can still more than hold their own in our league. Therefore, if you are only interested in ‘winning at all costs’ and ‘getting signed’ then we are probably not the club for you.
For any players who we do believe might have a genuine chance of succeeding long-term at academy level, we have direct referral pathways into Chelsea F.C, Tooting & Mitcham United F.C and AFC Wimbledon Ladies F.C. However, we will never send players in just for the sake of it in the hope that one might get signed.
Now recruiting for 2020/21 season
When: SMFC youth teams play in the London County Saturday Youth Football League from September to May. Training takes place on Tuesdays & Thursdays all year round except summer holiday period. SMFC Seniors play in the Southern Sunday League from September to May and training takes place on Thursdays.
Where: Home games at Brockwell Park, away games across London. Team training is in Brockwell Park during spring & summer and at Ferndale Community Sports Centre, Brixton during winter (October to March).
Ages: 2020-21 season: U10s, U11s, U12s, U13s, U14s, U15s, U16s, Girls’ U16s and Men’s Seniors.
Cost: Youth: £10 signing-on fee (since 2005/06). Match subs: £3. Seniors: £40 signing-on fee. Match subs: £5.
Contact us to get involved.