When AFC Bournemouth launched their Premier League Kicks programme just over 18 months ago Aaron Scott and Matt Divine, having been working with the newly promoted club, were involved right from the beginning.
“I was here two-and-a-bit years before the Kicks programme started,” says Aaron, a coach with AFC Bournemouth Community Sports Trust. “I got into that through work experience in my sixth-form course, and then the Kicks project started and I was straight on that.
"I jumped on it. I heard about it, read about it, and I wanted to be involved."
Matt became a part of the programme through similar means.
“I got involved through volunteering – just joining in and helping out in the community whenever they needed somebody at a session. Now I lead two sessions a week.”
The pair have been central figures as FC Bournemouth’s PL Kicks programme has expanded in a short period of time.
There are now 900 youngsters taking part, with 16 free sessions being offered each week.
“I’m very proud,” says Aaron. “The session’s grown and grown. It’s got so much bigger because of us, hopefully.
“It’s not just about football for these kids, it’s learning the social side. We’ve got loads of youngsters here, they’re meeting new people all the time.”
Matt also highlights the diversity of the participants.
“I think it’s a brilliant programme. I love to see kids coming from different backgrounds, joining in and enjoying it.”
Steve Cuss, AFC Bournemouth’s head of community, says the success of the programme in the town and surrounding areas is thanks to Matt and Aaron.
“Without them doing the work they do on a daily and weekly basis, those numbers wouldn’t have grown,” he says.
AFC Bournemouth are one of 68 clubs running PL Kicks programmes. More than 180,000 young people have been engaged in weekly sessions nationwide since the project’s inception in 2006.
As part of the 10-year anniversary celebrations of PL Kicks, Aaron and Matt have been named AFC Bournemouth’s Premier League Kicks Heroes.
First-team player Ryan Fraser went along to a PL Kicks session with academy goalkeeper Callum Stanton to present the pair with their own personalised comic strips, designed by Marvel and DC Comics artist John McCrea, which tell their stories.
“As soon as I saw it I said, ‘That’s going straight up on my bedroom wall,' " a proud Aaron says. “Nothing like that has happened to me before.”
Matt adds: “It’s brilliant they come up with different ideas and different ways of recognising the hard work that we do as a community, and the fact that Kicks has been a great, successful programme.”