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“The girls inspire me to do what I do”

By TSB reporter

Prince’s Trust award-winner Francesca Brown on turning her life around through football

Francesca Brown is a shining example to never give up hope.

It’s hard to imagine that the Prince’s Trust Young Achiever award winner, 25, tried to take her own life when aged 13.

Raised by her gran in Bromley, suffering with esteem issues and with her dad in prison, Francesca was in a difficult place as she embarked on her teenage years.

However, she found solace in football. The beautiful game proved an escape from her troubles and, before long, she discovered she was blessed with that winning combination: tenacity and talent. Small wonder that she earned a place in the Manchester City youth team.

Unfortunately, injury would cut short her football career, and Francesca chose to move to London – with just £10 to her name – to become a youth and community worker. It was there that Francesca came up with the idea for Goals4Girls.

Launched in June 2013, Goals4Girls is a football development programme which works with young women aged 11 to 16. It breaks down barriers and reduces inactivity among young women by raising aspirations, self-confidence and self-esteem, inspiring them to set and achieve goals – including setting them on a career path. Goals4Girls provides football coaching, player development, qualifications, workshops, seminars, trips and mentoring to girls in and around east London. Now based at the Royal Docks Community School, the initiative has helped more than 300 young women.

The Prince’s Trust stepped in to help turn it into a viable business, which culminated in Fran collecting her award from Dame Maggie Smith and HRH Prince Charles (a heady mix of show business and actual royalty) at Grosvenor House on Monday 31 October.

“It is such a true honour to be presented with this award by Prince Charles – it was unbelievable,” beamed Fran. “And Dame Maggie Smith held my hand. I watch all her shows.”

However, it was Fran who was in demand on the night, with television presenters Ant and Dec begging for a selfie.

Her inspiration to succeed doesn’t come from the famous faces that surrounded her on the night, but from the 700-plus youngsters she devotes her time to helping.

She added: “The girls inspire me to do what I do – just seeing their faces coming off the pitch is incredible, and so is when they tell me how their workshops have helped them.”

Fran also wanted to pay tribute to her grandmother who she said helped her to find her voice.

“I’m most proud of my grandma who took me on from a young age and helped make me into the woman I am today – she is my rock.”