News & Media Features Grassroots Figureheads - Patricio Sanchez, Brixistane FC - (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 May’s feature, Kick It Out spoke to Patricio Sanchez, founder of Brixistane FC, a grassroots club for young people in Brixton, on why he formed the club and what more can be done to support clubs and academies at that level. Grassroots football can be a difficult place to build a team with a philosophy but that is what Patricio has moulded through his club in the past two years. “Brixistane was formed in July 2015 and we started off with about six to eight kids in Brockwell Park in the Brixton area. It has now grown to over 45 kids taking part with age ranges from Under-9s to Under-11s and we’ve also recently launched a girls’ side. “I started the club by myself because I was a PE Teacher and I was passionate about football. Another reason behind its formation was because when I was little I used to play all around south London and I was quite ‘big’ at the time and the coaches used to say to me that I was a ‘technical’ player; I would end up on the bench rather than playing. “So my philosophy behind the club is whoever can get out of their bed on a Saturday morning to come and train – they deserve to play, regardless of their talent.” With that determined mentality in mind, the coach of Brixistane is keen to ensure that the young players learning their skills at his club also share his positive attitude. “At Brixistane, we focus more on the technical side of the game, ensuring that skills such as ball control are our focus. We also encourage players to be creative – we like them to be risk-takers on the pitch and be expressive. We want the kids to challenge themselves without fear of failure. “We believe it’s important for them to get to the stage where they are not going to worry what their parents think, or what even I think as a coach, of their performance on the pitch. We have to remember that when they are playing the game it’s theirs rather than ours.” Working with young players means that the coach must set the tone for the club and the team to be run. But at Brixistane, Patricio has created a novel approach which allows the players to create an atmosphere which they can call their own. “The club ethos is always to ensure that the environment of the club is about respect and fun," he explained. "As a club we believe strongly that if we create that kind of environment and maintain it then it allows the players to flourish individually and collectively. “When I first set up the club and after a few weeks of coaching the first set of kids, I asked them two things. I told them we’re going to make the rules of the club but we were going to do it together. And then I also asked them what are their two favourite colours. “If you look now at our kit, the majority of those kids’ favourite colours are the ones we wear today – I believe it’s important to give the kids ownership. “For the rules, the kids kept coming up with the word ‘respect’ – so I said instead of having so many rules which may confuse them, we will have one strong and consistent rule which we all follow. Because the kids came up with the rule themselves, they know what is expected of them.” In part two, Patricio talks about the challenges he faced in creating Brixistane and the importance of developing young people through football.