Emmanuel's story: PL Inspires makes me feel part of something

By Mark Orlovac 5 Oct 2023
Premier League Inspires, Everton, Emmanuel

Find out how Premier League programme and Everton in the Community helped one teenager integrate in the UK

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To mark this year's Premier League Inspires Challenge, we look at how the programme, which is supported by the Professional Footballers' Association, helps 11 to 25-year-olds fulfil their potential.

Emmanuel (Everton)

For many young people, moving into secondary school can be a tough experience. That challenge is even greater for someone who has just arrived in the country with no friends and little spoken English.

That is what Emmanuel faced three years ago when he arrived on Merseyside as a Year 7 student from Italy.

Forward wind to the present day and Emmanuel is now a confident and popular member of his Year 9 class at The Academy of St Nicholas in Liverpool - all thanks to Everton in the Community (EitC) and the Premier League Inspires programme.

"Not having friends made school difficult for me at the start," he says. "I didn't really care about lessons; I didn't really get involved."

With Emmanuel detached and disengaged from school life, he was identified by EitC as someone who could benefit from PL Inspires, which is a targeted programme for young people at risk of not reaching their potential to develop the personal skills and positive attitudes needed to succeed.

Premier League Inspires, Everton, Emmanuel v2

"It was a different culture for him and as he had very little confidence, he wouldn't really speak," says EitC PL Inspires tutor Christina Brown.

"We've given him praise and encouragement as well as one-to-one mentoring. It's allowed him the opportunity to find his voice."

This year Emmanuel has been part of EitC's Premier League Inspires Challenge, which tasks young people to devise and implement social action projects in their local community.

The 2022/23 Challenge has focused on environmental sustainability and climate change, with the Everton team creating an outdoor learning space using materials collected from around the school.

And being part of the Challenge has not only given Emmanuel the opportunity to express his ideas but also the confidence to work with senior members of staff at the school and the construction company building the site.

"It's been lovely seeing Emmanuel develop these positive relationships with people that he wouldn't normally speak to," Christina says. "The change in him has been massive. It just makes me feel so proud seeing him like this."

Premier League Inspires, Everton, Emmanuel v3

And for Emmanuel, the boost in his self-esteem over the last three years has given him a far more positive outlook for the future.

"PL Inspires makes me feel like I am a part of something, like I am important," he says. "The Everton coaches treat us like adults and I am more mature now. I can talk to Christina. I don't feel anxious.

"If there's someone that's in the same position as me, I would tell them not to be scared, there's nothing to be scared of. You are going to learn and you are going to have fun."

This season, 45 professional football club community organisations across the Premier League and English Football League are delivering Premier League Inspires sessions at their stadiums, in local schools and at alternative educational settings, with partnership support from the Professional Footballers' Association.

More than 30,000 young people from across England and Wales have received more than 125,000 hours of targeted support through the programme to date.

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