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Prime Minister David Cameron has hailed the work of the Premier League and its clubs in improving the lives of millions in their local communities.
Writing the Foreword to 'Creating Chances 2011' - the Premier League’s annual report of the work that goes on in communities - the Prime Minister praised football’s ability to connect with young people in a different way to politicians.
"Creating Chances uses the pull of the most popular League on the planet to encourage people to get involved in sport"
- David Cameron
"Football has a unique power to connect with young people in such a positive way. It can help change lives for the better," he said.
"The health benefits of the sport are obvious but it also reaches deep into communities, helping to deliver strong social cohesion as well as boosting people’s self-esteem.
"Creating Chances uses the pull of the most popular League on the planet to encourage people to get involved in sport. It also puts people in some of our most disadvantaged communities on the road into employment as well as helping teach youngsters vital life skills."
The 64-page Report details the work that the Premier League clubs deliver at the heart of their communities in five key areas: community cohesion, sport participation, health, education and international.
For the clubs who took part in the Premier League in 2011 there are case studies detailing the difference football can make to local communities.
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore said: "Anyone connected with Premier League football can feel proud of the growing impact that the clubs, players and managers are having in their communities.
"The fantastic work that has traditionally gone on is reaching new levels both in terms of scale and impact"
- Richard Scudamore
"The fantastic work that has traditionally gone on is reaching new levels both in terms of scale and impact. Both our and the clubs’ work with national and local organisations means that a real difference is being made in many people’s lives."
Creating Chances has worked with partners like Primary Care Trusts, the British Council, Sport England, Sport Relief, The Prince’s Trust and the National Literacy Trust.
Over the past four years, Creating Chances has invested £157m into community activities, benefiting 18.5m people. In 2011, £45m was invested by the Premier League, engaging 4.5m people in the process.
Creating Chances specifically targets those groups that are often more difficult to engage. 32% of Creating Chances attendees are female, and 28% are from black or ethnic minority backgrounds.
There are now more than 1,600 community staff employed by clubs and a further 1,874 volunteers working on Premier League programmes.
Simon Morgan, Premier League Head of Community Development added: "We are very proud of what we have achieved. Against the backdrop of economic difficulties the Premier League has continued to commit significant investment to deliver on its promises made to the communities last year."
"There has also been growing recognition of the work of Creating Chances, whether that’s the five Government departments we now partner with or the 77 local and national awards that the clubs have won in recognition of the difference they are making on their own doorsteps.
“We are also incredibly proud of the depth of our work, which stretches all the way down to the three leagues of the Football Conference, who have a £2.4m fund for their 44 clubs to access for community projects. In addition the Premier League and the PFA fund all of the Football League’s community work."
Click here to view the full report