Two things shaped my childhood, and me as a person. Firstly, I grew up thinking there were no green spaces where I lived in Earl’s Court, which is why my friends/brothers and I adopted the local cemetery as our park – playing sports, riding bikes and climbing trees. Later on, I learnt there were plenty of local gardens, but they were all private and under lock and key.

Secondly, on weekends my mum took me to work with her at ‘The Gateway Club’ – a centre for young people with learning disabilities. It was a club with scarce resources, but the staff were very caring, patient and nurturing. This stuck with me! I was proud to know that my mum took care of these people. They would call me their ‘brother’ and my mum their ‘mum’. We were all one big family.

In 2006, I travelled the world for a year. During that time I mixed with wonderful people, each with their own traits and with a common goal in life: to be happy. I absorbed the environment – from the street children in Mumbai to the opulence of Dubai, and realised that sports played a big part in children’s happiness. It was a way of bringing people together. From the homemade cricket bats in India to the dilapidated boxing gyms in Cuba, resourcefulness seemed to overcome the hardship of poverty.

I returned to the UK in 2007 and founded Solidarity Sports. Our first project – ‘Six Weeks of Football Fun’ – gave 20 children living in Earl’s Court the opportunity to enjoy sports and keep healthy. Since then, we have helped children all over London. From taking over 100 children on exciting trips abroad to publishing our very own cookbook, our journey has given us smiles, tears and lots of laughter, along with many rewards.

Our vision is to help more children and have a more positive impact on their lives. Our slogan used to be: ‘Inspiring children to be’. We help build the foundations for children to realise their potential. However, sometimes I think I enjoy working with children so much that it should read the opposite: ‘Inspiring adults to be’. It’s closer to the truth.

Sean Mendez,
Founder / CEO, Solidarity Sports