Minds United FC secured a league and cup double, winning the Middlesex FA North West London Mental Health League and the Middlesex FA Mental Health County Cup.
The Kensington & Chelsea grassroots football club, which was founded in 2019 in by Tarik Kaidi, aims to reduce loneliness and isolation among adults with experience of mental health issues in the community.
Kaidi said: “I feel elated and so happy. The whole club and all the teams do – we’ve got three teams and when one of us wins we all win.
“It’s amazing to have our North Kensington team in their first season to win the league, 15 points clear at the top and to have an undefeated run after their first league fixtures.”
The St Charles Community Team won the County Cup 2-0 on a penalty shoot-out.
Kaidi added: “The opposition were trying to take us penalties because they knew they thought they had a good keeper.
“We’d practised them in the week, so were very confident taking it to penalties, and as soon as they missed the second one everyone ran screaming on the pitch shouting ‘come on!’.
“It was a great feeling but then we couldn’t celebrate for too long because the other team was there and needed to show respect and shake hands.”
Minds United is part-funded by the Grenfell Projects Fund, which has helped it to grow beyond being only a football club.
The club now includes playing tennis as well as socialising and the opportunity for people to gain FA coaching and refereeing qualifications.
Kaidi said: “So many people from the community are going to create loads of coaches and referees and really help to grow the game for Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.
“We also have a private members’ club over in Latimer Road in Kids on the Green building and we have the ground floor where people can socialise and play computer games.
“We’ve got a studio upstairs where we use their Kids on the Green studio and radio station to help our people express themselves in different ways. Some people like football, some like music as well.”
One of the club’s directors and chairman, Joseph John, is a Grenfell Tower survivor.
Kaidi said: “He’s a great chef and he cooks for us every night as well, so no one needs to go hungry at night or feel isolated.
“We eat as a team and train as a team. It’s like a big family.”
A friendly match against St Alban FC led to an unexpected invitation by Premier League team Watford to play some more friendlies at their training ground.
Kaidi said: “Because we are big on respect and St Alban liked the way that we carried ourselves and knew we had Grenfell survivors, they told Watford about us and that’s how we got the opportunity with them.
“These are little extra blessings we get, the little icings in the cake that weren’t forecast.”
Minds United also recently launched a female team that is due to enter the league next season and Tarik is optimistic it can lead to more.
He said: “Hopefully we’re going to create two new female teams that can play against each other and help them to develop.”
Main photo credit: Minds United.