A YOUNG woman who moved from Manchester to London with just £10 in her pocket and a dream of a better life, was honoured at the Daily Mirror’s prestigious Pride of Britain Awards last night (Oct 31).
Francesca Brown was brought up by her grandmother in Manchester from the age of 13 after her parents separated when she was a child.
She had suffered depression and low self-esteem, and at one point was rushed to hospital after attempting to take her own life.
Football provided her with an escape from her troubles, and her skill earned her a place in the Manchester City youth team.
At 16, she was about to accept a scholarship to play football in the United States, but a serious groin injury ended her football career, and her American dream.
“It hit me then that I needed to make something of myself,” Francesca says.
She set up her Goals4Girls project in East London for girls aged between 11 and 16.
The football coaching provides a framework that also lets Francesca talk to them about body image, self-esteem, bullying and many of the other other challenges teenagers face.
Francesca trialled Goals4Girls as a voluntary project for two years before joining the Prince’s Trust’s enterprise programme in 2015, which helped her turn it into a viable business.
She now runs the project from Royal Docks Community School in Newham, where she is also a PE teacher.
Yesterday all of her hard work was recognised when Prince Charles handed Francesca the prestigious Young Achievers Award at the glittering ceremony.
“The biggest reward is watching the girls walk out onto the pitch or at training,” she says.
“It also feels great when you can see how far they have built up their communication, teamwork, self-esteem and confidence.
“I’m passionate about helping other young women reach their full potential by giving them the encouragement and training they need, which is something I never had.”