Tuesday 11 March 2014
Since Premier League Kicks started in 2006 it has used the power of football to help thousands of hard-to-reach youngsters in disadvantaged areas to turn their lives around.
Often the PL Kicks sessions are based around weekly sessions in a set location but the clubs running them look to link with programmes at other clubs to give their charges a richer experience.
This is what the PL Kicks team at Wolverhampton Wanderers have been doing for their youths, arranging last month a series of friendlies against teams from the other 46 clubs running PL Kicks. The programme run by Wolves Community Trust is one of the largest in the country, having started in September 2010, and over the past three years it has helped more than 2,800 youngsters across two hubs in the city, Bilston and Whitmore Reans, as well as winning awards such as the Kicks club of the year in 2012.
"We hope our input has equipped these young people in making more informed decisions"
West Midlands Police
In February, friendly matches home and away were played by the Wolves teams against PL Kicks teams from Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa, Bolton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion. The matches were accompanied by sessions to educate the youngsters to help them choose the right paths in life.
The trip to Nottingham gave the under-18 boys the chance to travel to an unfamiliar environment and explore another community as well as giving the Trust the opportunity to see how they conducted themselves in the city. The results were impressive, according to James Lowbridge, Lead Inclusion Officer at Wolves Community Trust. Against Villa, there was a workshop for both sides on racism with resources provided by Show Racism the Red Card.
“We have a good relationship with Aston Villa and their Kicks project, all the participants were great during the workshop and it really hit home to the young people who attended,” Lowbridge said.
The match at home to Bolton was preceded by a workshop from the Wolves Kicks “Choices” programme that looks to steer young people away from substance abuse by looking at the choices they have. PL Kicks programmes work closely with local police forces around the country and the workshop was led by Sergeant Chris Harrison and PC Ben Clay of West Midlands Police with encouraging participation from both teams, according to Sergeant Harrison.
“The choices programme prompted effective discussion about different subjects,” Harrison said. “It really brought home the reality facing young people today and we hope our input has equipped these young people in making more informed decisions.”
West Midlands Police also provided a successful workshop ahead of the friendly “Balck Country derby” with West Brom, where the police procedure of stop and search was educated to the youngsters.
As for the matches on the pitch, Wolves won two, drew one and lost the other. The results off it were much more important.
For more information on Premier League Kicks and the clubs who offer it, click here