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Friday 07 June 2013

Kickz Cup: 'Victory last year had a big impact'

Crystal Palace explain how winning Kickz Cup 2012 has been a boost to the project

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This Friday and Saturday the fifth Kickz Cup takes place at West Ham United's Boleyn Ground, with 32 teams from around the country competing in one of the highlights of the Premier League's Creating Chances calendar.

Last year, the Under-18 male title was won by Crystal Palace, who beat Leyton Orient on penalties in a the final at the Barnet Powerleague in London.

The win was given extra significance as it came just under a year since the area was affected by the London riots. Here, two Crystal Palace Kickz leaders tell what impact the triumph has made on the project.

Trevor Meader - Croydon Community Development Co-ordinator

We went into the tournament last year just to play football, to enjoy it and to experience it. We did not expect to win the whole thing.

The concentration and team work was really good. There were a few games that were a struggle but they showed how good they were by overcoming those difficulties as a team. When you look at the pictures of the players after they had won the final, you can see the relief and the happiness. There was a lot of emotion. The win came almost a year after the London riots.  Croydon had received a lot of stick and there is a real sense of pride that the players showed what they are about.

The whole club thought it was fantastic. We had so many people congratulating us. It was a big moment for the Crystal Palace Foundation, the club and the area.

Winning the competition last year has had a big impact on the rest of the project. The guys in the team were looked up to as role models. The other young people said, ‘This is where I want to be,’ and, this year, we had lots of people turning out for the Kickz Cup trials. Everyone really wanted to be a part of it.

This year, all the team managers of our Kickz Cup teams are young people who have come through the programme. They turned up as youngsters and now they are managing teams. They have the Crystal Palace kit on and you can see the smiles on their faces. It is priceless.

Last Saturday we let last year’s Kickz team play this year’s team. After the match, the two teams came together and started chatting about 2012 and the guys were great because they passed on their knowledge of what happened and explained what it is like to play in a finals day like this.

The team is really excited about this weekend. You can see it in their eyes. It’s a big thing playing at a Premier League club.  When you speak to them about it, the first thing you get is a big, glowing smile. We want to win but we also want the guys to take something away from the day. These events have been so well run and one of the big things about it is the community spirit. The coaches know each other and the players have met before, it’s just like a big family event.

Danielle Towner - Bromley Community Development Co-ordinator

The win has put the Foundation on the board a little bit. Kickz overall has done that. It's allowed us to go out into the community and work with these young people, to engage with them and teach them social and life skills. There is so much more to it than football.

Winning last year has made a big impression. People want to continue winning and a lot of the young people have realised that coming top in a national competition is within their reach.  The young people that are involved and understand the whole concept behind Kickz are definitely more driven and keen to be a part of something that’s successful.

The other young people in the project could understand the win last year because the players involved were their peers, friends or their cousins. Someone they knew was part of that set-up. A lot of these kids have not got positive role models or structure in their lives and that’s what the Foundation, the coaches, Kickz and the Premier League provide.

There was a lot of hard work that went into that victory, the players didn’t just stroll up and win. They had to put in the hard work and that experience and knowledge can now be relayed to the younger players. Young people learn more from other young people rather than the likes of Trevor or I telling them what they should be doing.

We have the young people from the programme as the coaches and George Henry, who started as a participant in 2008, is the Under-18 manager as well as the head coach of all the Kickz teams. It is a big responsibility but he is ready for it, so why not give him that chance to learn? He is an ambassador and is a champion for other young people to look up to.

It’s all about giving young people opportunities and options. A lot of the time they are just dismissed. It’s amazing what they can achieve. George is one example but there are plenty of other young people who have come through the programme. It is amazing what Kickz achieves.

Kickz Cup 2013 groups

Newcastle United
Leyton Orient
Birmingham City
Newcastle United
Birmingham City
Newcastle United
Newcastle United
West Ham United
West Ham United
Manchester City
Crystal Palace
Barnet (FP)
Sheff Utd (FP)  
Aston Villa (FP)
Chelsea (FP)
West Brom (FP)
Doncaster (FP)
Portsmouth (FP)

 * FP denotes teams who have qualified via the Fair Play Draw

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