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Wednesday 18 April 2012

In their own words: Kickz Awards 2012

Prize winners and volunteers explain how the Kickz initiative has made a real difference

Viva Kickz were one of the winners at last week's Kickz Awards 2012 in Manchester

Read about the Kickz Awards 2012.

Read the full Premier League Creating Chances report.

The Kickz Awards 2012 took place at Manchester City's Etihad Stadium last week to recognise the incredible work that has taken place in the scheme over the last 12 months.

The event was attended by 500 participants and volunteers with the likes of Premier League stars Patrick Vieira and Stuart Holden presenting awards.

Premierleague.com spoke to a selection of the award winners and people involved in Kickz to explain how the initiative has made a huge difference to communities since it began in 2006.

Davis Rizzolo (Arsenal in the Community): winner of the Inspiring Person award

"When I was I younger I got into a bit of trouble and I went into custody. I came out three years ago. I came out on a Wednesday, Arsenal came and saw me on the Thursday and I started full-time work on the Monday. Since then it’s been upwards from there.

"I run loads of Kickz projects in Hackney, Islington and Camden through Arsenal and I also work in an attachment where I mentor kids that have been kicked out of school, that are challenged and that have come from gangs. You build a relationship with them and try to get them back into the community.

"It's life changing. It's not only helped me but it has helped thousands. Now I just want to give back, I want to give everyone the opportunity that I got. I know it’s hard out there."

Leah Beal (Reading FC Community Trust): winner of the Inspiring Young Person of the Year Award (Aged 12-16) – female

"Kickz is really important. It has changed my life a lot. I wasn’t exactly the best-behaved person, if it wasn’t for Kickz I would probably be doing juvie or something like that right about now.

"They really helped me out, they helped me get through school, get qualifications and get me off the street. It's really good.

"In Reading, there’s rarely any gang crime anymore or any crimes to do with kids because they have all knuckled down in Kickz."

PC Graham Willerton (Watford FC Community Sports Education Trust): winner of the Outstanding Police Contribution award

"I am absolutely gobsmacked, I really am, because I know the amount of work that police who are involved within this scheme put in and for me to get it, I really am amazed and I'm overwhelmed to be honest.

"I'm not surprised with the impact it has had because I have seen the effort and the commitment of the individuals on the ground that are delivering it"
- Superintendent Stuart Dark

"I have seen a massive turnaround, especially in Harrow where we are, I think that young people know that there is an opportunity now, they know the Kickz scheme, it is well established in London and throughout England.

"I think young people do recognise that there is that opportunity for them to go along, to keep out of trouble and to do something they enjoy doing.

"One lad we had, he was a problem child, and the other year he won the volunteer of the year. I think it's fantastic to see this sort of opportunity for young people to turn their lives around."

Jahmmal Grant (Wolves Community Trust): winner of Inspiring Young Person of the Year Award (Aged 12-16) – male

"I'm speechless. My friends used to go to a football project while I was at home, I didn't know anything about it and they introduced me to this.

"When I started Kickz in Wolverhampton, I was causing trouble in the neighbourhood but as soon as I started going there they taught me how I should be. I've changed. There’s been a massive turnaround."

Amanda Farrell, principal of Viva Kickz (The Everton Foundation & The Liverpool FC Foundation): winner of the Alternative/Non Football Award

"It's been fantastic. We had good competition and we couldn't believe it when we won. The kids deserve it, they have worked really hard. I am so proud of them.

"Kickz is very valuable to the local community because a lot of the kids wouldn’t get the chance to do what they do if it wasn’t for Kickz, especially with dancing. Dancing is very expensive. But with Kickz backing them, they can come, get all the gear and they can express themselves. It gives them confidence.

"Kickz reaches kids that might have been on the streets, drinking and stuff like that but they are with us now and we can keep an eye on them and they have got something to focus on now."

Superintendent Stuart Dark, Chair of the national Kickz steering group and member of the Kickz Awards 2012 judging panel

"The work Kickz does is absolutely fantastic. From a policing point of view we know that it is working in our most challenged areas with our children and young people that are most likely to become the victims or involved in criminality or youth violence. So for us to actually give them a better outcome and better opportunity, it's fantastic.

"After every Awards ceremony you realise how important it is that the kids see these schemes as their own rather than us going in and saying: 'This is a police scheme.' That is key to their involvement, understanding and support of it. It's great. Long may it last.

"It all helps young people feel part of the wider community. I'm not surprised with the impact it has had because I have seen the effort and the commitment of the individuals on the ground that are delivering it."

Read the full Premier League Creating Chances report.

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Key Points

  • Kickz Awards 2012 took place at Manchester City's Etihad Stadium last week
  • Ceremony honoured volunteers and participants
  • Award winners explain why Kickz is important to them