I remember when the inflatable balloon would come to the Blackie every few weeks. It used to have a maze that you could run around in. I always used to be on the Pinball machine, its flashing lights were a permanent feature of the building and you would always have a queue to wait in.
There were board games, chess and draughts but I was on ropes hanging from the scaffolding that you could swing on for what seemed like hours. Granada Reports came to do a programme on the Blackie. I was unlucky not to be in the group going to Granada Studios, but those left behind were videoed at the Blackie saying our piece.
There was always an old van parked up there that we could just sit in and chill. The Blackie moved to Roscommon Street for a while and Peter Eyo was one of the Youth Workers. I didn’t go that much when it was down there because it just didn’t seem the same as the old Blackie building, despite the inflatable still being there.
Since my Blackie days I have always shown respect to Youth Workers in other clubs like The Methodist. I decided to go into youth work and I gained a Level 3 Youth Work qualification. Blackie workers like Peter Eyo influenced my future. I will always be proud of my football achievements,especially with the Caribbean team.
I now work with young people in the youth sector and also young offenders. This has enabled me to gain basic counselling and intermediary skills. Although the work can be unpredictable I enjoy passing on my life experience and knowledge to the kids. My Blackie days were invaluable in preparing me for such work.
During my work I came in contact with deaf children. This was a new experience to me in the work context. I am now proud to say that this inspired me to achieve a Level 1 and 2 in Sign Language. I believe that I am one of a handful of Black workers to have this qualification and if that is true I’m even more proud.