PL Kicks Cup

'PL Kicks brings a sense of togetherness'

17 Aug 2023

Participants, coaches and police share how the Premier League programme positively impacts local communities

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Hundreds of young people from across England and Wales came together at Warwick University for the national Premier League Kicks Cup this summer, and a day they will never forget.

The event celebrates the year-round Premier League Kicks community programme which is delivered by 90 professional clubs together with 36 territorial police forces to tackle issues affecting young people.

2 - PL Kicks image two
PL Kicks Cup - Warm Up
PL KICKS Tournament U16 MIXED 26JUL23-8370-2

The Under-16 mixed tournament, which was refereed by Premier League, EFL and Women’s Super League officials, allowed participants to show their skills on the pitch but to also attend workshops, social media clinics and have their photo taken with the Premier League Trophy.

Captains photo

We spoke to some attendees who shared the impact of the tournament and of the Premier League Kicks programme.

Levi, Fulham
Levi - Fulham

"I have been involved in PL Kicks for six years. I saw a session at my local park, and I just joined in. I loved it. There’s a togetherness with PL Kicks, you feel part of a family.

"Before PL Kicks I was very anxious about talking to new people and making new friends, but these guys have helped me through a lot.

"I am now part of the Fulham Kicks Youth Forum where we talk about what's going on in our local area and what is going to happen in the future.

"PL Kicks means the world to me, it’s given me the opportunity to explore many things.

"The future is looking bright. I have done my FA Level 1 and I want to start coaching at PL Kicks. To come from PL Kicks and to see what people have been through, if I can help them then that will be amazing.

Cam Warden, Leicester City volunteer coach/Police community support officer
Cam - Leicester City

"When I go to PL Kicks, the young people know who I am - they know me in uniform. They know me out of uniform. They chat to me, they can come up to me and speak to me about their problems. They can talk to us freely.

"That relationship between football, the Premier League and the police is a pretty powerful combination. I was told by one of my colleagues that these kids will never forget me. It's quite special to hear that because I didn't think they would. It's because I've had that impact with them, it's a massive change in their life.

"PL Kicks is genuinely incredible."

Owen, Walsall
Owen - Walsall

"Everyone is welcome at PL Kicks. There are a great bunch of coaches and there's respect from the players. There's girls there as well, it doesn't matter who you are, your gender, your race, everyone is welcome.

"There are no words to describe winning the PL Kicks Cup. Just thank you to Premier League Kicks for giving me the opportunity to play in this tournament and to represent Walsall against these Premier League team. It's an honour to win it."

Leon, Liverpool
Leon - Liverpool

"I joined PL Kicks at Liverpool FC Foundation three years ago and it’s been a blast. Knowing that I was doing something for Liverpool was uplifting and gave me an outlet.

"I used to walk around with my head down, I was that silent kid. Now I'm not afraid to speak with my team-mates, tell them what to do or encourage them during matches.

"The coaches are so supportive and that makes me feel brilliant. PL Kicks means happiness, and like my own little zone I can just play and be creative in. I know I've got good coaches there to support me if I make a mistake.

"I’ve changed a lot. It's amazing how much it's helped bring out my confidence."

Sam Hickman, Club Doncaster Foundation community coach
Premier League Kicks, Doncaster Rovers

"For this tournament we didn't want to just pick the best players, we wanted to make it inclusive.

"This was for those young people who wouldn't get the opportunity to get out of their comfort zone and push themselves - a lot of the players haven't been out of Doncaster.

"I was so proud seeing them playing and speaking with others. Previously they weren't confident lads, they didn't talk much, but they have come out of their shells. A lot of these lads are here to make new's about giving them opportunities to meet others, gain confidence and to learn skills that they can take away. 

"We might not have been the best team but what we've created is far more important."

Sako, Port Vale
Sako - Port Vale

"I have been going to PL Kicks every week since 2021. I struggled with confidence and communication. I used to play in an 11-a-side team and my coach would tell me to speak up because I didn't really know what to say. I was a bit shy.

"But when you meet all these different types of people, you learn how to speak, you learn how to communicate.

"The coaches are supportive. They always back you and you can talk to them. They're understanding and they're always there if you feel down.

"At PL Kicks people come from different areas but at the sessions, there’s a sense of togetherness. There's never any problems between anyone. It breaks down barriers."

Kelly Thurston, temporary Chief Inspector, Essex police
Kelly - Essex Police

"There's not a lot of community places for kids to go to anymore so they're then hanging around and that's where they start getting involved in things because they become prey for organised crime groups.

"PL Kicks is a brilliant programme to get these kids off the streets and help them learn that it isn't the right path to go down; there is something else that they can do.

"It massively breaks down barriers. If we're invited down to PL Kicks the young people get to see that we're humans first before police officers."

James, Doncaster Rovers
James - Doncaster Rovers

"I‘m deaf and this football is a lot more powerful but I feel like I've matched that – it's been amazing.

"We won the first game and it all changed. Everyone was comfortable and right off I thought, 'I can actually do this.'

"It makes me feel that there is nothing to be fearful about. Confidence is obviously key in football so if I've got enough confidence now, I can just keep building and building on it.

"Doncaster have helped me by being really supportive. The coaches are all amazing."

Tim Godwin, Chair of the Premier League Charitable Fund
Tim Godwin PLCF Chair

"Back in 2006, I was in the Metropolitan Police. During that time, we had quite a problem in the inner boroughs of London in relation to youth violence and youth homicide.

"Together with the Premier League, we kicked off PL Kicks and had 64 schemes in London very quickly. We had kids queuing up to get in and the relationship between the police and young people changed dramatically because the police could go and participate. So, they got to know each other and see that it wasn't confrontational.

"To see PL Kicks 16 years on, being delivered by 90 professional football club community organisations, in partnership with 36 police forces, is fantastic. Would I have had expected it to be able to stand that test of time? After the results we got in 2006, yes.

"The PL Kicks programme makes such an important difference to the lives of young people across England and Wales. Now, times are hard, and that's why PL Kicks is more important than ever before. I'm passionate about it."

What is Premier League Kicks Cup?

The Premier League Kicks Cup Under-16 mixed tournament is one of the competition elements of Premier League Kicks.

This is the Premier League’s flagship community programme, which sees 90 clubs across England and Wales run free weekly football sessions and positive activity to engage and support young people.

More than 490,000 young people have taken part in PL Kicks football and multi-sport sessions to date.

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