Friday 18 November 2011
The Premier League's Kickz project has been praised in the House of Commons by the Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Theresa May, at a celebration of five years of the community initiative.
At a House of Commons reception, the Home Secretary helped mark half a decade of the innovative initiative that uses professional football to engage young people who may otherwise be difficult to reach.
Kickz is a partnership between the Premier League and the Metropolitan Police and targets challenging and disadvantaged communities which suffer from high rates of crime and anti-social behaviour.
The project began in 2006 following discucssions between Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore and Acting Metropolitan Police Commissioner Tim Godwin with three London pilots kicking it off at Brentford, Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur.
Five years on, 113 local projects are being delivered by a total of 43 clubs in the Premier League and Football League, helping more than 50,000 young people in the process.
There are now more than 650 partners, including 61 local authorities, 64 steering groups, all 32 London Boroughs and 19 police force areas.
The House of Commons reception brought together Kickz participants and partners, as well as MPs from constituencies where many of the 43 clubs operate.
"It is obviously having a tremendous impact across the whole country"
Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Theresa May
The Home Secretary said: "We all know how many supporters enjoy watching football, but the idea of using its strength to help young people in this way is fantastic.
"I congratulate Richard Scudamore and Tim Godwin for coming together and making this idea work, because it is obviously having a tremendous impact across the whole country.
"Kickz is a wonderful project and the number of young people involved is great. It's doing really good work enabling them to not just be taken out of situations in which they might get involved in gangs or crime, but actually giving young people a voice and enabling them to be heard.
"All those involved in it deserve a great deal of praise, especially those that volunteer, as they make it what it is."
Scudamore agreed and paid tribute to the young people who he says have helped make Kickz the Premier League's "greatest community success story".
"The young people involved in Kickz prove time and again how optimistic, creative and talented they are"
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore
He added: "The Premier League and the Police may be behind Kickz but it is the 50,000 participants who make it a success.
"So often stereotyped as troublemakers because of where they live, the young people involved in Kickz projects prove time and again how optimistic, creative and talented they are.
They have the same aspirations as young people everywhere - to get on in life, enjoy themselves, make friends and give something back to the neighbourhood.
"Kickz is a tale of proactive engagement, developing potential, targeting the right people, creating safer communities and building solid partnerships."
More than 75 per cent of Kickz participants live in the top 30 per cent most deprived areas of the country.
In the communities where Kickz takes places, police crime analysis shows anti-social behaviour, criminal damage and violence is reduce, helped by the fact that 91 per cent of the projects are delivered on a Friday and/or Saturday evening.
Ian McPherson, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police said: "Kickz is a key partnership for us. Without the support of the Premier League we would struggle in some communities which find themselves in trying circumstances.
"Most young people don't get involved in crime or anti-social behaviour, but what Kickz does is provide people who, on occasions, might be bored on estates, with opportunities.
"The Premier League, whose clubs and players have a massive impact on young people, brings a certain charisma about it and directs young people to see what they can achieve."
In five years, 5,052 volunteers have joined, there have been 6,827 qualifications and accreditations gained through Kickz and an impressive 398 young people have gone on to gain employment with clubs.
One of those 398 is Kyle Stewart, a Tottenham Hotspur Foundation coach, who has been involved with Kickz since it began in 2006.
"Kickz because it gives you the opportunity to be heard - which is what a lot of young people want"
Kyle Stewart, involved with Kickz since 2006
"I love Kickz because it gives you the opportunity to be heard," he said.
"For a lot of young people like me all we really want is a voice. You grow up in a community where you don't have much influence over what happens around you but Kickz is the opposite of that.
"It's hugely rewarding that you can come to a project and it's solely your project - the coaches come to you and get you heavily involved.
"Kickz also gives young people somewhere to go and it gives you opportunities for the future as well. You are playing with your friends and the next thing you know one of them has got a trial for Tottenham Hotspur.
"It's a chance to excel and have more ambition. You think to yourself 'This is something I have to be a part of because otherwise I might be doing something negative'. It's nice to go home and tell your family all the productive things you've done."