Grassroots Figureheads - Jon Regler - Streets Revolution (Part One)
Grassroots football is the heart and soul of the game. For the hundreds of thousands of participants, it is their opportunity to be involved in a sport they are truly passionate about.
Kick It Out will speak to figureheads and representatives of the grassroots game, in a series exclusive to the organisation’s website, as they offer their unique thoughts from the amateur and community level.
For August, Charlie MacKinnon spoke to Jon Regler, founder of Streets Revolution, an international project based on creating social cohesion through the power of sport.
When Jon Regler founded Streets Revolution in Oxfordshire back in April 2010, his aim was simple – to change the world one person at a time.
Seven years on, his aim hasn’t changed, and since beginning the project in England, Streets Revolution has expanded as far as Germany, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Jon’s inspiration behind kick-starting the Streets Revolution project came after he volunteered at the Homeless World Cup. The project aims to provide opportunities for people who feel marginalised to realise their potential through social inclusion and sport.
Jon spoke to us about his current role with Streets Revolution and the impact it has had on both himself and others.
“I suppose it’s an insight into my character as I believe I am a doer. I always want to find the answer to a problem. It began with a simple ‘jumpers for goalposts’ idea and it grew from there,” he said.
“I’m CEO and founder of Streets Revolution. We were founded after my experience as a volunteer at the Homeless World Cup which took place in Milan in 2009.
“From that experience I became very enthused and wanted to get involved by using football as a tool to change people’s lives. When I got home to Oxford, I was looking for an opportunity to volunteer, and I couldn’t find any.”
Jon’s experience as a volunteer at the Homeless World Cup was something he felt changed his outlook and gave him the confidence to start up a project which gave something back to the community.
“I had the opportunity to volunteer and be a pitch-side manager at the tournament. I gathered the understanding that something like football, which I had then taken for granted, had such an impact on their lives. In hindsight, I stumbled across my two passions at the tournament – football and making a difference.
“I came to the realisation that I could do this and I was really passionate about it.”
There are now two Streets Revolution projects in England, based in Oxford and Bicester as well as one soon to be launched in Bournemouth. Jon explained the process behind starting up his project, and the challenges faced whilst doing so.
“Before I had started Streets Revolution I knew nothing other than playing football and watching as a fan. There was a lot of exploring into how everything would work.
“The biggest realisation I had was that I couldn’t do it alone. I had to find out if other people were interested in the project.
“When we first started out, six or seven players turned up to an event as well as support workers and different people from different organisations. The local County FA also gave us advice which was great.
“It reminded me that I was on the right track – people wanted to not just play football but talk about it as well. You have to create as much of a team off the pitch as you do on the pitch”.
The project has been a huge success since starting out as a small organisation, and when asked on his proudest moment since founding Streets Revolution, Jon humbly admitted his recent pride of hearing from the organisation’s Tanzanian base and the work they had done as a community thanks to Streets Revolution.
“One of the best moments I’ve had happened recently. I received an email update from Tanzania, talking about how inspired they were and what was possible.
“They realised they had the numbers and the strength to do this. They tidied up their area themselves as a team, spending a whole weekend tidying up the community. It’s nothing to do with football, but it shows you the power that one thing can have.
“The idea is to give them all one unified plan – we’re all part of Streets Revolution no matter who you are.”
To find out more about Streets Revolution, click here.