Football, football, football!
Jason Thomson visited Tynecastle Park recently to meet up with Big Hearts, the official charity of Heart of Midlothian FC. He’s no stranger to Gorgie, having played for the club for 9 years. Now working as Operations Manager for Street League UK, he tells us about how life has changed after the dream of being a full-time footballer came to an end.
In the summer of 2004, he joined Hearts as part of the Youth Training Scheme programme. “I left school at 15, with pretty much no qualifications and knew I was going to sign for the club. During my time there it was all football, football, football!”
At the age of 24, he left Hearts and moved to Raith Rovers “The reality of the dream of being a footballer who never had to work a day in his life, quickly disappeared! Thankfully I was switched on enough to realise that I had to do something else. This is when I decided to go to university. I studied for 4 years and now have a degree in Sports Management.”
It was during Jason’s time at university that he began to learn about the charity side of football. “If I look back, I was totally naïve to that side of things. During my time at Hearts, we went on visits to the Sick Kids hospital but I didn’t know about any of the work of Big Hearts or similar charities connected to football.”
As part of his degree, he was required to do a work placement. “I went to work with Raith Rovers Community Trust, spending one day a week working with local families living in poverty. This is when my eyes were opened to the work that football clubs do – using the Heart of Midlothian or Raith Rovers brand to have a great impact within the local community.”
After his time as a player at Raith Rovers came to an end, Jason joined Arbroath on a part-time basis in 2018. “It’s going great! The team are doing really well and it’s all to play for at the moment! I’ve been back to Tynecastle over the years when playing for both Raith Rovers and Arbroath – it’s always great to be back!”
In January 2022, Jason took on the role of Operations Manager with Street League UK. “We deliver a 10-week course to those over the age of 16, with the aim of helping to get younger people into employment. Using the power of sport, we tackle poverty and give young people the opportunities they need to succeed in life and the workplace.”
Earlier this year, Street League contacted the club’s charity with the idea of a partnership to help boost recruitment. “We reached out to Big Hearts to find out if there was anything we could do to support each other. This is when the discussion started – Can we host a football tournament?”
The answer is yes!
On 4th May 2022 we invite young people aged 16-24, who are currently unemployed, along to Tynecastle Park for an afternoon of football. Information on Big Hearts and Street League’s youth activities around sport qualifications, volunteering and employability will be available on the day.
Full event details can be found here.
– April 2022