Tuesday 02 July 2013
Leading figures from a variety of sports have praised the impact that the new £16.8m three-year partnership between the Premier League and Sport England will have on their discipline.
The collaboration, which was announced on Tuesday, will facilitate the growth of two community programmes, Premier League 4 Sport (PL4Sport) and a rebranded Kickz, which will in turn engage young people in a wide variety of sporting activities.
The announcement of the partnership was made at the Evelyn Grace Academy, in Brixton, with participants from Kickz and PL4Sport projects taking part in coaching drills and exercises with Great Britain basketball captain Drew Sullivan, England netball star Sasha Corbin, GB table-tennis player Darius Knight as well as sprinter Adam Gemili, a former Chelsea youth player who competed for Great Britain in last summer's Olympic Games.
"It is so important to really invest and to put time into the next generation"
"It's such a great initiative and a great investment for the future," Gemili told premierleague.com. "That money is unbelievable for sport and the development of young people in this country.
"Unless you are given a chance by other people then it is very rare that you can really unleash your true potential. Encouragement is key to development and you never you know, one of the people playing here in any of the sports could be a superstar of the future. That’s why it is so important to really invest and to put time into the next generation.
"The two organisations have an unbelievable reach. Sport England is involved with so many sports and the Premier League is probably one of the biggest sporting associations in the world so it’s absolutely unbelievable that they have been able to work a partnership and invest nearly £17m in sport in the country."
Kickz is a joint venture between the Premier League and the police and has been running since 2006, using football to help 71,500 young people in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country become involved in sport. As a result of the partnership with Sport England, an extra 30,000 young people will be engaged over the next three years, a further 3,000 volunteers being trained and 600 competitions delivered.
PL4Sport has been delivered by the Premier League, Sport England and the Youth Sport Trust since 2009 and it set about turning Premier League clubs into hubs linked to local community sports facilities to encourage young people to try out other sports.
Initially the scheme involved four sports, badminton, judo, table-tennis and volleyball, with that number increasing to eight last year as basketball, handball, hockey and netball were added to the programme. That will now be expanded to 12 sports with athletics, boxing, golf and tennis the latest additions.
"It’s amazing; it is something that I would absolutely kill for as a kid," Sullivan said. "To still do my sport but to be associated with a football team is great.
"I am a massive football fan and to have that link with a football team makes it a bit more special for the kids. And on top of that it gives your sport a little bit more credibility. You can say you play for Arsenal basketball team or West Ham basketball team and people are automatically a lot more interested in what you do.
"To be able to have a scheme like this with so much funding is so important, it's huge."
The event in Brixton was an opportunity for Maria Miller, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, to see PL4Sport in action, with football and hockey coaching sessions taking place alongside the netball, basketball, sprinting and table tennis activities.
Darius Knight passed on tips to the participants and displayed the technique which helped him win three national under-21 titles while he also played a game of doubles with Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore and former Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers full-back Graeme Le Saux.
"It's about giving the young people access to sport"
Graeme Le Saux
"The Premier League’s backing for sports like table tennis is massive," Knight said. "I feel honoured that our sport is included in a big programme like this and that they see that there is potential in it.
"They are trying to use the power of football to help the other sports and really put money in so we can give kids other opportunities in life.
"Table tennis is a sport for life. It’s for anyone and everyone. It keeps you healthy, it’s a full-body exercise and mentally it’s good for you. It’s amazing what PL4Sport is doing and I am excited to be a part of it and to be a part of a great sport like table tennis."
Scudamore was excited by the announcement and the numbers of extra young people that will feel the benefit of the funding.
"The announcement is very important because it manages to extend two of our very successful schemes," he said. "Their success over the last number of years has meant that Sport England want to join in with us and extend the programme, take it further, take it to more places, more young people and more sports.
"It's large in terms of its economic scale but obviously most importantly it's the amount of young people that will be engaged through these various schemes."
Le Saux, who had a 15-year career as a Barclays Premier League footballer, has been a keen supporter of the PL4Sport project and said the venture between the Premier League and Sport England was "something to shout about".
"It's about giving the young people access to sport," he said. "And if they enjoy it then they can take the next steps to joining a club and getting better. Developing that number of clubs that deliver these coaching courses, it’s a wonderful opportunity to continue to support other sports through football."