Tuesday 01 April 2014
James Milner is giving his backing to the latest Premier League Players' Kit Scheme which launches today with the Manchester and England midfielder confirming the positive effect that owning a new kit can have on a child's feelings for the game.
The Premier League Players' Kit Scheme, which began in 2011, provides kit to junior teams as well as offering teams the chance to apply online for new kits. To date, kit and equipment have been provided to more than 2,000 junior teams, via the online national application system and individual player nominations.
"I have experienced myself how a new kit can have a big impact on someone who loves football"
Under this year's Premier League Players' Kit Scheme, the Premier League is teaming up with Nike, its official partner, to provide new kits to schools, further education institutions and district representative sides. The 20 Premier League clubs will provide new kits for schools involved in their Premier League Schools Sport programme while the other institutions can apply online for their kits here.
Milner is fully aware of the positive impact a new kit for the school football team can have, having enjoyed one himself as a player on his school team in Leeds.
"I was on the team at Westbrook Lane School a couple of years ahead of my time and the second year I played there I remember we got a new kit," Milner said. "It was maroon and light blue, the school colours, and I remember feeling great to put on a new kit. We were no longer having to rifle through the kit bag, looking for two matching socks, or socks with holes in them!
"So I have experienced myself how a new kit can have a big impact on someone who loves football. But for kids who are not into football or are into fashion, a new school kit might give them an incentive to get into football. They could be into football for life from something as simple as getting a new school kit. It can give them the confidence to go out and play football because it makes them feel good and look good."
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore was proud to announce the latest edition of the initiative. "The Premier League Players' Kit Scheme has been providing kit to junior teams for the past three years and it is great to see this latest supply being made available to schools' teams," he said. "The thrill of getting a new school football kit, and the chance to wear the Premier League badge on their shirt, will hopefully motivate children to continue participating in sport, football or otherwise."
Milner, who is heading into a key few weeks with Man City aiming for a second Barclays Premier League title and looking to be a member of the England squad at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, was speaking at Ravensbury Primary School, in the shadow of City's Etihad Stadium, which is the schools sport programme run by City in the Community, Manchester City's charitable foundation. At the school, the 28-year-old chatted to the pupils and got involved in the coaching sessions laid on by the CITC coaches for the schoolchildren.
The excitement generated at Ravensbury by his presence cast Milner's mind back to when he had the chance to get near his heroes on matchdays at Elland Road.
"We used to be ball boys at 12-13-year-olds in the Leeds academy," Milner said. "We were in a room in the stadium tunnel and there was a window we could look out to see what was going on. You felt a massive buzz, like you were part of the game, seeing what your heroes were doing before the game.
"My first Leeds kit was the blue-and-yellow striped one with 'Tony Dorigo' on the back"
"Then when you were out there being a ball boy in front of the crowd, seeing the players up close it made you desperate to become a footballer, after you got that taste. We were really lucky to do that. Being ball boys helped the academy players because they could get used to the atmosphere and the matchday. It was amazing to be able to experience that buzz and see that."
For Milner his favourite kits when he was young were mainly of his boyhood heroes at Elland Road.
"As a kid I mostly had Leeds United kits," he told premierleague.com. "The first one was the blue-and-yellow striped one with 'Tony Dorigo' on the back. He was my favourite player that season, but it used to change. I had Tony Yeboah another time, then Lee Bowyer. It was normally a Christmas present from my parents depending on whether it was a home kit or away kit."
As for which of the more modern kits he likes, aside from the all-white Leeds version he made his debut in and the present City one, his eyes are drawn to the more colourful versions out there and not just for aesthetic reasons.
"The Barcelona away one at present is quite wacky, with its bright red-and-yellow stripes," he said. "I like kits that are a bit different. Some can be hideous but I like the more fluorescent ones because they are a bit different and when you are playing in them they help you to pick out team-mates - unlike the infamous Man United grey shirts that they changed at half-time against Southampton."
For more information on the Premier League Players' Kit Scheme click here