Monday 28 May 2012
Some of the Premier League's flagship Creating Chances projects were put on show this week as representatives from Europe’s leading clubs attended a community forum in London.
Delegates from the likes of PSV Eindhoven and Bayer Leverkusen visited a Kickz project run by Queens Park Rangers and a Premier League 4 Sport volleyball session run by Arsenal as part of the first-ever Community Outreach Seminar.
The three-day meeting brought together clubs from the Premier League, Bundesliga, Scottish Premier League, Israeli Premier League and Eredivisie, giving them the opportunity to talk and to share ideas about community schemes across Europe.
"England is absolutely a role model in this field"
- Kristina Bohnstedt
The forum hopes to forge lasting relationships between the clubs, with the aim of helping them start and develop their projects.
The seminar was funded by Youth In Action and was a joint initiative between the Premier League, the British Council as well as the SCORT Foundation, which founded the Football Club Social Alliance to help European clubs get involved in international development and peace-keeping operations.
"Many countries do not have social programmes or a community department," said Kristina Bohnstedt, SCORT's Head of Projects.
"In Germany they started in the last year so there are some clubs who have community or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) departments but in England it has come on in every club.
"England is absolutely a role model in this field. European clubs really look up to England and they are quite impressed with what is going on because there are so many different programmes."
The delegates came from a wide cross section of clubs, including Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen from Germany; NAC Breda, Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven from the Netherlands; Hibernian from Scotland as well as Hapoel Tel Aviv from Israel.
Chelsea, Everton, QPR and Manchester United represented the Premier League.
QPR hosted two days of the seminar and the club representatives had the chance to try out their football skills with a match on the Loftus Road pitch.
As part of the trip, some of the delegates, a mix of both policy makers and outreach workers, visited a Kickz project in Harlesden.
"I am very proud that clubs have chosen to come here to England to learn from us"
- Martino Chevannes
They saw for themselves how the scheme operates by watching a training session and sitting in as a reformed addict spoke to the youngsters about the dangers of getting involved in drugs and gangs.
The visit ended with representatives from the clubs playing in a match with Kickz youngsters and volunteers.
Another group went to see a Premier League 4 Sport volleyball session at Camden School for Girls while the third visited a Homework Club, which are both run by Arsenal.
QPR's Community Trust Manager Martino Chevannes helped to organise the seminar and the Kickz visit and he hailed the forum as a success.
"The seminar has been absolutely superb," he said. "It's brought clubs from different cultures together to share ideas and best practice. As well as us giving information to clubs, we have learnt a lot too.
"We have found out that some countries and clubs have the same issues as us and we've been able to share different ways and approaches of tackling the same problem.
"The key theme is that the Kickz scheme is known across Europe. Clubs seem to want to follow and implement that model into their community and social inclusion work.
"I am very proud that clubs have chosen to come here to England to learn from us."
Jorick Beijers, an outreach worker from Feyenoord, was impressed with how youngsters who have come through the Kickz scheme return to become coaches and volunteers.
"The main thing for us is that we can do a lot about getting youth in our system for youth workers," he said. "We are not working really with youth workers right now. We want to get the youngsters in our city to work for us in the future, in England they are doing a lot about that.
"In Holland and Germany we are in a good way but the Premier League is really in front of us and very good in developing all of these projects."
"Even the clubs with established programmes take a lot from this"
- Marc-Andre Buchwalder
It is hoped that the clubs will continue their relationships in the future, with delegates already planning exchange visits.
"I have spoken with Manchester United to see if it is possible to go to there and learn from their activities," said Michael Arends, who works for Werder Bremen's CSR management department.
"In Bremen, we don't have the same problems as in London. For a long time I was searching for a new project which would help to bring poor people or people from other cultures together.
"I hope that I can build up a new programme like the Kickz project."
SCORT Chief Executive Officer Marc-Andre Buchwalder expressed his wish to see the seminar repeated in the future.
"Even the clubs with established programmes take a lot from this," he said.
"The English clubs are very experienced, they are getting lots of support from the Premier League and funding is in place and there's the Dutch clubs or the German clubs that are just starting.
"There's a huge difference between the needs in England to the needs in Germany and Israel but there’s also a lot of similarities. How do you get the club involved, get the funding, create the partnerships?
"It’s a really good investment to have all of them here to exchange and to talk about identifying the youngsters they are working with. I believe there must be a continuation of this."