Tuesday 12 August 2014
The popularity of the Premier League is a result of the high-quality level of competition it has maintained over the years and this success has created greater revenues that clubs not only invest in their football operations but also into their local communities.
The standing of the clubs in their local communities and the close ties that have been established there as well as the stature of their players to inspire young people to get involved in sport means that the League and clubs can have a big impact on inspiring people in their lives.
"Our aim is to make sure girls and boys of all abilities can take part in positive activities in their local community"
In the Season Review 2013/14, Kate Bradley, head of Newcastle United Foundation, explains how using football and the brand of Newcastle United FC to reach young people who would otherwise be difficult to reach.
"Our programme has grown rapidly in the six years since we were established," Bradley says. "We now work with 50,000 children and people in their families a year across the region. We work in schools, in community venues and we take the club right into the heart of communities.
"Many of our programmes run in areas of high need, working with children and families who really need our support. Our aim is to make sure that girls and boys of all abilities can take part in positive activities in their local community. We work very closely with other partners, with other agencies and with other sports clubs to make sure there is a pathway for young people to progress and go on to sport or careers of their choice."
This activity in the local community is replicated among all the 20 Premier League clubs as well as having been put in place at past member clubs and adopted by others. One example of how the League and clubs work together for the good of the local community is Premier League Kicks.
PL Kicks is a successful scheme run in conjunction with the police and Sport England that uses the hook of football to engage youngsters in some of the most disadvantaged areas of England in positive activities, which in turn reduces anti-social behaviour. Its success has meant that that 47 clubs around England run it, engaging more than 20,000 young people.
Newcastle United Foundation runs PL Kicks programmes three nights a week at different locations across the city with 600 young people signed up. The impact it has is demonstrated by the most recent intake of seasonal staff members for the Foundation. Wisdom Ekeke, Melissa Scott, Sara Burn and Dean Richmond are past participants or volunteers with the Foundation's PL Kicks project and now they are helping Foundation staff during the busy summer period. Ekeke explains how the programme put him on the right pathway in life.
"I hope that what has happened to me can be an inspiration to them"
"I started at PL Kicks about 3-4 years ago and I went because I was keen to get off the streets and away from fighting with other boys," Ekeke, 18, said. "I had been in trouble for that, I was with the wrong people in the neighbourhood and I wanted a way out of that.
"Kicks offered me that with the football. I started going and never stopped because I enjoyed it so much. Thanks to Kicks putting me on the right path I was able to go to college and enrolled on a Level 3 course in Sports Coaching at Tynemet. When I finished I wasn't sure what I was going to do so I talked to Steve Mack, at the Foundation, and I started to do volunteer work on Thursday and Friday evenings.
"Now I am helping younger kids to attend Kicks sessions at different locations on a regular basis, to make sure they do not miss out and so they can find the right path early in their life. I hope that what has happened to me can be an inspiration to them. I am very grateful for what Newcastle United Foundation and PL Kicks have done for me and want to give some of it back."
Bradley emphasises how much impact the investment the money from the Premier League has had on the area but despite such success, as with the League and its competition, no one is resting on their laurels in looking to take things to the next level.
"Investment from Newcastle United and the Premier League has transformed lives over the last 10 years in the North-East," Bradley says. "Working with the Premier League we can hopefully see more investment in local facilities, but not just investment in facilities, investment in people.
"Newcastle United is living proof that with the right support you can really harness the power of football to make a difference. The club, its players and our staff especially, are role models for young people in the community.
"This last year we've seen record levels of participation, not just in sport but education programmes, but we know that there are more young people we can help, so the next five years we're looking to double our numbers."
For more on Newcastle United Foundation go to their new website, www.nufoundation.org.uk