From professional footballer to founder of Pathway Sports – how David Doherty realised his life’s true ‘goal’
Former professional footballer David Doherty is Pathway Sport’s president and founder. The project is a result of his burning passion to help people better themselves and give something back to the community.
He is not an idealist out of touch with life on the city streets. David has experienced the realities first hand and at one time led what he describes as a ‘negative life.’ David's story is particularly interesting, because of various life experiences. A former Professional Football Player, devoted husband and father David is extremely excited with the prospect of his vision manifesting and making a substantial impact in the community.
David grew up in Nigeria and lived for football. His father was a professional footballer and helped him to harness his talent. He describes his father as the sort of person who would help anybody. Having gained his Football Association coaching qualifications, David now intends to do the same for the young people who come under his guidance at Pathway Sports.
As a youngster, David’s talents quickly shone and he was spotted at an early age by Nigerian scouts. On one occasion only injury deprived him of representing his country in the junior world cup finals.
David, who was a talented right-back, signed his first professional contract with Concord, one of Nigeria’s top football clubs. It wasn’t long before he was turning out in front of up to 20,000 adoring football fans. He has played alongside stars such as Joseph Yobo who was later destined to play for Everton. Things went well for several years, but David felt compelled to explore new horizons and to see more of the world.
The opportunity to travel arose towards the end of his career, when he came to the attention of former Yugoslavian side, FC Borca. Another professional contract followed and he enjoyed two successful seasons in what is now Serbia. Although David enjoyed his professional career in Serbia, he was forced to leave due to the discrimination he suffered whilst in the country.
David's relative encouraged him to join him in The UK and he was then dragged into a negative lifestyle.
David explains: “My peers – the people around me – were into negative things. It was a damaged system. They resented the system and the community and didn’t want to give anything back. Negativity was everywhere. “I got influenced in the wrong way because everybody was into crime. I ended up being sent to prison. It was a real low point in my life.”
David was very regretful and remorseful for his actions and thus began to plan on ways on how to give back to the community and help others turn their backs on leading an anti-social or criminal lifestyle.
Once out of prison and ‘with the help of God’ David completely changed his life.
“I am now giving my time, experience and resources to help young people and give back to the community. I want to help people achieve their dreams,” David explains.
The idea for Pathway Sports was sparked by ‘mass’ football matches in Charlton Park. David used to play football there regularly with up to 50 other people of various races and religions.
“We all came together to play sport. I was desperate to stop the fraudulent life. I started to talk to the other people and tell them that there was something we could all do to change ourselves for the good and help the community.
“I told them I wanted to improve my life and other people’s too. I believe we are all born with a gift and I wanted to start helping people find their own special talents in life.”
While sport remained at the heart of Pathway Sports, more and more activities were arranged to encourage young people to change their lives.
“We want to reach out in many ways to help people who feel neglected and rejected across the capital. It often starts with sport, but it is not just about sport. It’s about developing young people. Our platform is giving back to society. It’s about educating and inspiring them. We positively encourage people to get involved in sport and activities which can improve them as people. It leads to a far better life than crime could ever provide.
“If you sit down and listen to young people you soon realise the power of them coming together. They have massive ideas and I mean massive, but often society does not get to hear them. We find out what they want and how they think they can achieve it. We try to inspire them, but we don’t try to think for them.”
He is also studying for a Masters degree in sports management at the University of East London.
In addition to being a qualified football coach, David is an in-demand radio/TV presenter who helps publicise the charity’s work on African media channels.
David has also shared his passion with Lord David Owen, co-founder and former leader of the Social Democrat Party. When a soldier was brutally killed by terrorists on the streets of Woolwich, David was asked to give his views on Sky TV.
David says: “I think it shows that our profile is growing steadily and that is important if we are to reach out to more people.”
So what advise does David have to offer to troubled teenagers and disillusioned young adults is short and sweet:
“Don’t allow yourselves to lose focus. Work hard, do whatever you can to get educated, be good, keep away from crime and respect your parents and God first. If you can do all this – and Pathway Sports can show you how – the sky really is the limit as far as the future goes.”