Wednesday 29 January 2014
The impact that the Premier League Kicks initiative has made on the lives of thousands of youngsters in England has been recognised by the police in the North East, who are backing a programme that will bring together Sunderland and Newcastle United with the aim of building relationships and tackling anti-social behaviour and youth crime.
Northumbria Police & Crime Commissioner Vera Baird has announced funding of just under £20,000 from the Community Safety Fund to the project, which will engage PL Kicks participants from both clubs in a variety of positive activities.
"We know people in the North East are passionate about their football and this starts at an early age," said Commissioner Vera Baird. "This valuable project gives youngsters the opportunity to meet others who may support a different local team.
"It's clear the project works and changing young people's lives"
"Through workshops and activities they will explore and discuss anti-social behaviour, the impact is has on them, their families and their communities and the consequences of violent or anti-social behaviour.
"Using football to get this message across means they are in an environment that is interesting and more comfortable for them. It will hopefully mean they engage better and learn more. My office has met staff running the project from both clubs and it's clear it works and is helping to change young people's lives, So I was more than happy to offer my support."
The youngsters will be working together in a series of workshops, classroom-based activities and educational events while they will also take part in showcase football matches and visits to the Stadium of Light and St James' Park.
"We've had great success with a number of our Kicks projects reducing youth anti-social behaviour by up to 80% in the communities in which they run, as well as giving young people access to experiences and workshops that have raised their aspirations and broadened their horizons," said Ev Ripley-Day, head of raising standards at Sunderland's Foundation of Light.
Newcastle United Foundation chief executive Kate Bradley also welcomed the partnership.
"Our Kicks project sees 150 young people in Newcastle turn up weekly to each session and we have a track record of helping young people achieve their goals through football. This project is all about using the power of football and sport to unite not divide."
As part of the initiative and ahead of the Tyne-Wear derby on Saturday, 60 young people aged between 15 and 17 held their own 'Derby Day fixture' at a Building Bridges event at the Walker Activity Dome in Newcastle last weekend.
What is PL Kicks?
- Delivered in partnership with many police forces
- Funded nationally by the Premier League and Sport England
- It began with three pilot projects in 2006
- There are now 47 Premier League and Football League clubs running PL Kicks
- In excess of 71,000 young people have been helped over the last eight years
The eight-team tournament featured players from Newcastle United Foundation and Foundation of Light PL Kicks projects and was officiated by Community Support Officers from Northumbria Police. During the second half of the tournament, players from both sides joined up to create mixed teams.
PL Kicks has a long history of using the power of football and the value of sports participation to help hard-to-reach youngsters in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the community turn their lives around.
By engaging youngsters in constructive activities, including a wide variety of sports, coaching, music and educational and personal development sessions, communities up and down the country have been transformed with impressive sports participation rates and the authorities reporting significant reductions in anti-social behaviour. The scheme has also enabled thousands of youngsters to find routes into education, training and employment.
Following the announcement last summer of the partnership with Sport England, an extra 30,000 young people will be engaged over the next three years with a further 3,000 volunteers being trained.
These are some of many joint events the clubs hold. More than 30 youngsters representing the clubs took part in a judo festival last weekend as part of the Premier League 4 Sport programme. The 11-13 year olds had the chance to train with fans of their rivals and share techniques at the event at Newburn Leisure Centre, in Newcastle.
"The day was a great success and was a great opportunity to bring people together in the spirit of sport," said Foundation of Light judo coach Kevin Patterson. "As coaches it was great to see our students working so well with those they’ve never met before and it acts as a great reminder of how important sport is in young people’s social development as well as their physical development."
The Premier League 4 Sport scheme helps deliver sports for youngsters in local communities by getting them to try out new activities. It 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. From this year, 12 Olympic sports are on offer.
"Sunday's event was a great advert for judo and in particular it demonstrates how sport can bring children all of ages and abilities together," said NUFC Foundation senior project co-ordinator Lisa Bel. "It was really nice that both Newcastle and Sunderland can come together to compete in a competitive environment in such a big week for both football clubs."
For further information about the Premier League 4 Sport activities in the North East call either the Foundation of Light on 0191 5515191, or Newcastle United Foundation on 0844 3721892 ext. 8451.