UCFB student Samantha Richards has been balancing two things not many her age would have encountered – their university work and publishing her first book. Inspired by the work she has done with Street Child United, the BA (Hons) Multimedia Sports Journalism set about collating a book of poems from people ‘street connected’ all around the world. The book, titled We Are All Somebody, is set for release in February 2021. Here, Samantha tells us about her work with Street Child United, the work she’s undertaken for the book and how she’s finding life at UCFB Wembley

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be involved with Street Child United… 

I grew up just outside of North London and was an avid sports player – my school team reached the national finals for netball, and I loved to swim too. When I was about 14 we had two coaches, Molly Kmita and Rosie Kmita, who came and coached football at my secondary school and that’s where it all started – my love for the game!

After my GCSEs I decided to pursue my love for football through coaching and playing. I was accepted at Arsenal on the Community programme where I would study a BTEC, coach football, and play at the same time. I can safely say that it was the best decision that I’ve made! Whilst studying at Arsenal we met the youth homelessness charity Centrepoint; I then started training on their female only session which I loved because of the inclusivity.

I was then lucky enough to be chosen to represent Team England in street football because of the Street Football sessions. This led me to being selected in their under-18 squad which went to the Street Child World Cup in Russia! I also went to Portugal for another tournament with Centrepoint.

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As well as representing Team England the Street Child Football World Cup in Moscow in 2018, you also represented them at the Street Child Cricket World Cup in 2019. How were those experiences? How did this give you the idea of a book?

The Street Child World Cup for me was almost like a rollercoaster ride of emotions. We were in a tournament with people from 24 different countries, and the participants representing their countries were all there for different reasons. But we had one thing in common – we all wanted to help provide social change in our countries, and we were all in some way connected through being street connected.

A Street Child World Cup is made up of three different parts: the sport, the arts and congress. For me alongside the football, the congress sessions were the best part about the trip. We would speak about the problems that we face within our countries and communities. For me this was my turning point as it really made me grateful for the upbringing and opportunities that I had while growing up; the children out there didn’t have these opportunities – even just by having access to education.

I wanted to help provide change for these children who were now my friends. Coming home from the tournament I struggled to deal with my emotions, I was so conflicted. On one hand I was over the moon as I had captained England to third place in the play-offs, and on the other I wanted to help provide the change that is desperately needed by millions around the world.

To thank Street Child United (the organisers) I wrote a poem. Writing this helped me a lot, so I thought to myself that this might help others too. That’s where the idea of ‘We Are All Somebody’ came from, a collection of voices from all around the world by street connected children.


What has the process been like?

I have envisioned the book since September 2018, so to see it all coming together makes me speechless! I have worked so hard in getting the right stories and ensuring that the book helps others in both the preparation phase and the published phase. The hardest part was to juggle my workload at the time as submitting my book drafts. I had assignments and work at the same time too, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. My module leader Dave King supported me an incredible amount and continues to do so.

You’ve also coached inmates at HMP Pentonville. How did this opportunity come about and what was the experience like?  

As part of my Arsenal journey I volunteered frequently, and one of my best sessions was when we would go into Pentonville to coach every half term. It was a session that their families would come to, so it could almost be seen as a tool to reinforce good behaviour. It was a very rewarding session, and to coach them was a joy.

Today is an extremely proud day for the #SCU family as our Young Leader Sam Richards has her remarkable book ‘We Are All...

Posted by Street Child United on Friday, 11 December 2020

Alongside all of this you’re studying Multimedia Sports Journalism at UCFB Wembley. What are your favourite aspects of the programme and what are your career goals upon graduation? 

My highlights so far on the course would have to be all of the hands-on experience that we get. In my most recent broadcast module we had to produce a radio package; the lecturers gave us all of the tools to succeed and I ended up speaking to WSL legend Anita Asante. Throughout my first year we also managed to attend a few games before COVID-19, including Arsenal under-21 vs Peterborough. But my favourite highlight would definitely be visiting the Chicago Bears media day – the access we had was unbelievable and I made some great contacts there too.

I also play for the UCFB netball team, it’s a great family and I love our Wednesday games!

What are your career goals upon graduation?

I am really interested in journalism; I love writing and sharing people’s stories. My passion lies within women’s sports and I love social media and how it can be used to amplify the voices of others. My dream job would be Arsenal Ladies social media content creator.

Now for the really important part – where can we pre-order the book ahead of the February 23rd launch date?

You can pre-order the book now by visiting: https://www.flyonthewallpress.co.uk/product-page/we-are-all-somebody-street-child-united-anthology.

The book will also be stocked by Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/we-are-all-somebody/samantha-richards/9781913211202.