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OSS Ambassador Kathleen Dawson this week dropped in on the OSS research project with Street Soccer Scotland in Dundee to meet with a group of inspirational women.

Dawson is an inspiration of her own having made global headlines in the summer when she led Great Britain to gold in the first-ever mixed Olympic Games medley relay, in Tokyo. The Stirling-based swimmer was the first OSS ambassador and has supported the OSS work to engage more people in sport activity. The OSS is currently developing a research project with the charity Street Soccer Scotland, studying their work to use daily football and other sport activity sessions to engage people from backgrounds of poverty, homelessness, addiction, crime and other trauma, and empower them to improve their lives.

Kathleen took her gold medal along to Street Soccer’s refurbished Change Centre in Charleston, which proved popular, and as well as a discussion and Q&A session, she took part in football and other activities with the women’s group.

“I had a great time,” she said. “It was lovely to see Street Soccer and meet the staff who are so selfless, and put so much effort into helping these women from a variety of difficult backgrounds, and making their lives better.

“The ladies were great fun. I spoke about my journey, my ups and downs, my anxieties around performance, and they seemed to relate to that, and were interested to know how I combat anxiety and lower the pressure on myself. We’re all just people with similar anxieties at the end of the day, and so it was nice to chat about different experiences. They all seemed to enjoy the day and made lovely comments, and, so, personally, it felt nice to make an impact on their day.

“It’s a great initiative and I’m delighted to see the OSS working with Street Soccer to understand how it works, and how it can help more people become engaged in sport. Sport has been a huge part of my life, but it’s not the sport itself necessarily that has the biggest impact. It’s not that these ladies are all super into sport or football, but it’s the sport that is pulling them together and that’s the key.”

The former Lynch Centre was handed over to the football charity by Dundee City Council and Leisure and Culture Dundee, as one of many ageing sport facilities in Scotland that was facing permanent closure. The OSS project has been monitoring the progress of the facility since its opening last month, and will continue to work with staff and players to understand the impact it might make on the lives of local people, families and communities. As well as helping Street Soccer to shape their provision, the research will be shared nationally to help Scottish Government, local authorities, leisure trusts and third sector operators to further engage inactive and vulnerable people.

If you or your company would like to get involved in this research, contact Research Officer Ryan Brown.