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The inspirational community leader who transformed North Manchester’s Abraham Moss Warriors

Abraham Moss Warriors are working to transform North Manchester community through sports, education, and unity, rewriting the rules to inspire positive change and belonging.

In North Manchester, Abraham Moss Warriors, a community football club, is creating a transformative impact by empowering the area’s disadvantaged youth through the power of sports.

Over nearly 23 years, the club, led by dedicated founder June Kelly MBE, has provided crucial life skills and support to thousands of local children in Cheetham and Crumpsall.

While football is the common thread, Abraham Moss Warriors is more than just a sports club—it’s a lifeline for Manchester’s underprivileged youth, offering them a sense of belonging, vital skills, and a safe haven.

This story explores the remarkable journey of this club, its inclusive and diverse nature, the challenges it faces, and how you can support this essential community initiative.

The Genesis of Abraham Moss Warriors: A Community Catalyst

In the heart of North Manchester, Abraham Moss Warriors was born nearly 23 years ago as a response to the challenges faced by the area’s young people.

Temptations of street life and the allure of gangs were real threats, but June Kelly, a behaviour support teacher and sports coach at a local primary school, decided to take action.

June said: “The Abraham Moss Warriors started 23 years ago. I worked as a behaviour support teacher and sports coach at a local primary school.

“Some of the kids in the area were getting into trouble and hanging around on the streets because there wasn’t much for them to do. So, we thought about starting a football team outside of school, in addition to the one we had in school, to keep them engaged.

“We began with 9 kids, which quickly grew and grew, and now we look after more than 400 kids.”

In 2003, they made headlines for requesting time off during Ramadan for our Muslim kids, as it had been declined.

This led to a significant rule change in 51 years and gained the club a lot of press attention.

She and a group of children established a football team outside of school to provide a constructive outlet for their energy and talents.

Now, Abraham Moss Warriors cares for over 400 children, offering them a path away from the streets and toward a brighter future.

These young leaders start as early as 11, fostering responsibility, self-confidence, and self-belief.

June added: “The initial inspiration was to keep kids out of trouble.

“The area had issues with gangs, and many children didn’t have productive activities to participate in.

“As a behaviour support teacher, I saw that kids needed something positive to do instead of hanging around on street corners. Our goal was to offer them a safe and engaging environment.”

Empowering the Community Through Football

Abraham Moss Warriors operates just meters away from the Abraham Moss Metrolink stop, an area known for crime and violence.

In this challenging environment, the club’s mission is to keep local children off the streets and provide them with the skills for life, which extend beyond the football pitch.

June said: “In 2009, I received an MBE for the positive impact the club made in the community, and in 2013, I received the Pride of Britain award.

“This was the first time a sports award was part of the main Pride of Britain event, celebrating 150 years of the FA.

“After having around 400 kids in the club, we expanded from being just a football team to a multi-sports club, offering literacy, numeracy, and science programs.

“We also began working with the Ministry of Justice and the Violence Reduction Unit to address gang issues in the area.

“We now conduct diversionary activities on Friday and Saturday nights at the new leisure centre in Abraham Moss, along with football training during the week and holiday activity programs during school holidays.”

The club has recently been awarded the Holiday Activity Program of the Year for the North West, and June is currently shortlisted for the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year award.

For the past 18 months the Warriors have been really busy running activities for up to 80 young people on free school meals to experience a variety of  exciting activities in the school holidays -whilst having a healthy meal and learning about nutrition. This is made possible with thanks to MCR Active and Department of Education

The program fosters skills like communication, teamwork, discipline, and respect, which are vital in dealing with life’s challenges.

These skills are brought into school, family life, and the workplace, ensuring that the club’s impact goes far beyond sports.

The club’s diversity is one of its defining characteristics.

June said “We provide a safe space for young people to come together, even if they start as strangers.

“Our club boasts 52 nationalities, making us one of the most diverse clubs in the country. Sport acts as a great equalizer; you don’t need perfect English to enjoy it.

“We encourage our young members to stand up for what’s right, even if they are standing alone.

“Building self-confidence and self-belief is essential, and we focus on keeping them away from street gangs.

“We conduct sessions on knife crime awareness and first aid to prepare them for various situations.

“Additionally, we provide them with opportunities to become young leaders, starting as early as 11 years old.

“These young leaders actively participate in social action within the community, such as transforming Smedley Park into a community park and achieving recognition for their efforts.”

In Cheetham Hill, where 98% of families live below the poverty line, the club emphasises accessibility, charging just £1 per week.

Importantly, no child is ever turned away, ensuring that even the most disadvantaged children can benefit from organised sports.

Not Just Sports

The Abraham Moss Warriors are not solely about sports; they have extended their reach to the academic development of the children involved.

Recognising the importance of education, they offer support in mathematics and English to address the needs of students who may be struggling in these subjects.

Many of the children in the program come from families who cannot afford private tutoring, making this support invaluable.

Moreover, the club has incorporated science into its curriculum.

They aim to instil a love for science among their young members.

An initiative with NASA, called Mission X, allowed the children to engage in real scientific experiments and educational activities.

This holistic approach ensures that participants receive a well-rounded education that encompasses both sports and academics.

They have even ventured to the Mariana Trench—an unimaginably deep part of the ocean.

The renowned explorer Richard Garriott initiated an awe-inspiring project.

The club was invited to partake in the venture, and it involved taking children’s artwork to the deepest part of the world’s oceans, the Mariana Trench.

Before the expedition, Garriott conducted live Skype calls with the kids, and their artwork was sent down to the trench.

June said: “We noticed that many kids were falling behind in school, particularly in math and English.

“So, we started offering workshops and educational support.

“We also got involved in science and even had the opportunity to collaborate with NASA on a program called Mission X.

The goal is to inspire kids in various fields and encourage them to pursue higher education.”

Facing Financial Challenges in Tough Times

Despite the club’s impactful work, it is not immune to financial challenges.

Rising costs, along with the growing needs of the children, have strained the club’s resources.

For instance, the club has witnessed a surge in the number of children who come to training hungry.

These children, who may not have a hot meal or a warm bed at home, are in dire need of support.

Abraham Moss Warriors has been providing not only lunch but also food parcels for these children to take home.

The club’s role has expanded to include cooking lessons, and empowering children to prepare meals for their families.

As the cost of living crisis deepens, the club’s funds have been depleted. The club had to reduce its number of participants, affecting the lives of many children in the community.

To ensure that as many children as possible can continue to benefit from the club’s support, Abraham Moss Warriors has initiated a fundraising campaign to raise £15,000.

This effort aims to sustain and expand the club’s services for these young individuals.

How Can You Support Abraham Moss Warriors?

June Kelly and the Abraham Moss Warriors rely on support from the community and beyond to continue their life-changing mission.

Here’s how you can get involved and make a difference:

1. Volunteer: The club welcomes volunteers willing to contribute their time and expertise. If you’re interested in enriching the lives of young people and their families through sports and other activities, consider becoming a volunteer. Your involvement will have a profound impact on the community.

2. Donations: Your donations can help sustain the club’s operations, ensuring that more children have access to a safe space, sports, education, and essential life skills. Every contribution, no matter the size, plays a crucial role in making a difference in the lives of these young individuals.

3. Awareness: By spreading the word about Abraham Moss Warriors and the challenges they face, you can help raise awareness in your community. Advocating for their cause can inspire more people to get involved and support this vital initiative.

June added: “We are always in need of volunteers since most of our work is voluntary.

“We run many sessions, and most of our coaches are ex-players who started with us when they were young and now dedicate their time to supporting the younger kids.

“If anyone is interested in volunteering, we’d love to hear from them.”

You can vote for June as sportswoman of the year by clicking here

Supporting Abraham Moss Warriors – An Investment in the Community’s Future

Abraham Moss Warriors is more than a football club; it’s a lifeline for Manchester’s disadvantaged youth.

Their relentless dedication to the community has positively impacted countless lives and inspired young leaders who aim to make a difference.

This story showcases the transformative power of sports, education, and inclusivity in creating positive change in a challenging environment.

The challenges faced by the club in tough financial times necessitate the support of the wider community.

By volunteering, donating, or raising awareness, you can become part of this incredible journey and make a significant impact on the lives of young people.

You can donate to their club by clicking here

Your contribution strengthens the club’s ability to provide a safe space, essential life skills, and a sense of belonging to Manchester’s underprivileged youth, setting them on a path toward a brighter future.

You can find out more about their amazing work by clicking here

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