Thursday 21 March 2013
Sports Minister Hugh Robertson witnessed at first hand the work that the Premier League and its clubs do for their local communities at the launch of the Creating Chances 2012 report on Thursday morning.
Robertson watched foundation degree coaching students put children from Pakeman Primary School through their paces in a series of drills and exercises at London Metropolitan University.
As with many Creating Chances programmes, the foundation degree is run in partnership with other agencies, in this case Arsenal in the Community, City and Islington College and London Metropolitan University. The degree gives student coaches the opportunity to learn a wide variety of skills including psychology, sports science and physiology as well as the chance to gain practical experience when coaching at community projects.
The scheme is one example of the 843 diverse projects that are highlighted in the Creating Chances 2012 report and Robertson was impressed with what he saw.
"Using the names of the clubs is the stardust that brings it all alive"
"What we have seen today is a fantastic scheme delivered at community level that teaches young people a whole range of sporting skills and development skills, through football," he said. "It's really important because it reaches quite a deprived part of the community here in London.
"Kids who would not get this sort of opportunity otherwise, enjoy the opportunity that much more because it has an Arsenal and Premier League brand. And of course nationally it is incredibly important because after the Olympic and Paralympic Games we want to get more people playing sport.
"These schemes provide an opportunity for the Premier League, Britain’s most powerful sporting export, to put something back into the community and to use their clubs to deliver that in a really attractive package and it’s great to see it happen.
"Using the names of the clubs is the stardust that brings it all alive. You could teach all of these kids exactly the same lesson and it would be great fun but stick Arsenal and the Premier League on top of it, it brings the whole thing alive. That's the magic that these football clubs can have."
As well as watching the coaching sessions, Robertson, who was accompanied by Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore, spoke with the children and learnt more about the work from coaches that are in the programme.
One person who is benefiting from the course is Rebecca McKenna, who is in the third year of the foundation degree and is hoping to graduate this summer.
"I have gained so much experience and confidence from this course," the 21-year-old told premierleague.com. "I am working with other coaches and learning from them.
"Arsenal have given me the opportunity to go into schools and put all the things I have learnt into practice. It's not just about the technical side. They teach us to be fun with the kids so they learn in a fun environment and a lot of the skills I have learned with the football coaching I have been able to transfer into other coaching, such as netball and hockey.
"I definitely want to carry on with my coaching. I love working with primary school kids. I find it so rewarding especially when they smile after getting something for the first time. The smiles do it for me."
"The results are tangible, some of these guys are really contributing now and are making a difference"
The coaching session at London Met included warm-ups drills as well as shooting and passing drills and seemed to impress the children involved.
"These sessions are amazing," said 10-year-old Idrissa Bah. "They teach you lots of things. Some people in my school lose the ball and this teaches you how to pass and create chances. They also teach you how to score.
"The coaches are fun and they make it enjoyable. I would like to do some more."
Alan Sefton, the head of Arsenal in the Community, has worked in community programmes for near on 40 years and he believes schemes like the Foundation Degree are of “tremendous value” to the local area.
"People do not realise how much work the Premier League clubs and the other football clubs actually do in the community," he said. "The results are tangible, some of these guys are really contributing now and are making a difference.
"Everybody knows that football is a key way of attracting and engaging young people. Once you engage them you have got to have a bit of substance there, hence the training all of these people."
The Creating Chances 2012 report is a guide to the community work of the Premier League and its clubs and how the power of football can turn people’s lives around both at home and abroad.
Scudamore said: "What it is all about is the huge activity that goes on with all of our clubs in their communities. It's the breadth of activity and also the commitment of those people that are paid to do this and all the volunteers that are turning up and of course the young people themselves, you can see the enthusiasm with which they take part."