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Friday 06 December 2013

Aston Villa duo help drive club's PL4Sport programme

Matt Lowton and Joe Bennett show their skills as golf and tennis are added to the scheme

Matt Lowton and Joe Bennett try out their golf and tennis skills with Premier League 4 Sport. Video courtesy: Aston Villa FC

The Premier League 4 Sport programme helps deliver sports into youngsters in local communities by getting them to try out new sports.

The programme works by turning Premier League and Football League clubs into hubs linked to local community sports facilities. Youngsters have the chance to play a variety of sports and this can increase the chances of them joining a dedicated sports club.

  Clubs offering golf under PL4Sport
Aston Villa
Blackburn Rovers
Bolton Wanderers
Everton
Hull City
Middlesbrough
Sunderland
Derby County
Southampton

The success of the programme - it has engaged 60,000 young people since its start in 2009 - has allowed the range of Olympic sports on offer to be expanded to 12 from this year.

One of the new sports is golf, which, along with tennis, has joined the six sports that have been offered to 12-18-year-olds by Aston Villa (badminton, basketball, hockey, judo, table tennis, women’s football).

Villa defenders Matt Lowton and Joe Bennett got a chance to show off their skills at the two new sports at a recent PL4Sport session at the King Edward VI School.

The duo took part in golf and tennis activities under the watchful gaze of tennis professional Dan Evans, who made it through to the third round of the US Open this year, and European and US tour golfer Flic Johnson.

"I had a lot of fun," Lowton told the club's website. “It was great to meet the kids and join in some of the activities. I was much better at golf than tennis, no doubt. I hadn't played tennis before this for more than 10 years! But it was good!"

Bennett’s skills were the opposite of Lowton.

"I'm better at tennis than golf," Bennett said. "I've played at the Belfry before - but I will stick to tennis after my efforts today!"

Evans is ranked No 2 in Great Britain and is a Villa fan. He was delighted to be involved in coaching the youngsters.

"It was great to be here for a top initiative that helps kids get involved in sport,” he said. "It was all done in a good spirit and I was impressed with the skills of Matt, Joe and the children who took part."

Golf will be a new Olympic sport at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2014 and Johnson is hoping that the PL4Sport will help it to develop in Britain.

"The game of golf will grow and grow as we build up to the next Olympics, where it will be included again," he said. "To see the children participating so eagerly was great."

As well as these sports, the club also offer disability sessions in judo, golf and badminton. For more information on the scheme, contact Hannah Hogben on 0121 327 2299.

Thirty-four clubs in the Premier League and Football League offer Premier League 4 Sports sessions. Click on the links to the club closest to you above right to find out more.

  • Matt Lowton tried out his putting technique at the PL4S session

  • Joe Bennett's tennis skills were put to the test by Britain's No 2 Dan Evans

  • Aston Villa's PL4S scheme now includes golf and tennis

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