Sako's story: PL Kicks has given me options for the future

By Mark Orlovac 4 Oct 2023
Premier League Kicks, Sako, Port Vale

Find out how one participant gained confidence and a pathway into further education with the help of the Port Vale Foundation

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When Sako started Premier League Kicks sessions with the Port Vale Foundation in 2021, it was a place to unwind and enjoy a competitive kickabout.

But the benefits of PL Kicks have not just been confined to the football pitch.

Over the last two years the Premier League Community programme has provided opportunities and experiences that have not only improved Sako's life skills but also raised aspirations for his future career.

"I heard about Kicks through my friends," Sako says. "I turned up, I enjoyed it and I've been going every single week ever since.

"The sessions are run really well and it’s a stress relief for me. I go there and clear my head for a bit."

Sako was made to feel at home and soon embraced the chance to meet new people.

"It's helped me develop my communication skills," he says. "When you meet different types of people, you learn how to communicate.

"I used to struggle with confidence and communication. I was shy but now I’m much more confident."

During his time with PL Kicks, Sako has discovered different routes that he could explore as he begins his journey into further education and beyond. 

He is now studying law and is also keen to volunteer at PL Kicks sessions.

"I've always looked at taking different routes, maybe economics, biology or law," he says. "And obviously there's always that underlying pathway for me in football.

"The coaches have given me support and guidance. To have those people there is great because they help you in so many different ways.

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

Premier League Kicks, Stoke City, Port Vale

Sako has been one of the shining lights at the sessions and as a reward for his progress and attitude, for the last two years has represented Port Vale in the national Premier League Kicks Cup tournament.

The event brings together teams from across England and Wales and is a celebration of the work PL Kicks delivers in communities throughout the year.

"Representing Port Vale is an honour," he says. "Being at an event as large as the Kicks Cup, it's great to see all these different teams coming together.

"You see Premier League teams playing against League One, League Two teams; it's something that you can’t imagine. There's a sense of togetherness and that sense of excitement when you're playing the games."

For Sako, he feels that community spirit every week when turns up at his local PL Kicks session.

"Different types of people come from different areas," he says. "When it comes to Kicks and football, they forget about their differences.

"There's never any problems between anyone, it brings people together and breaks down barriers."

Premier League Kicks, funded by the Premier League through the Premier League Charitable Fund, uses the power of football and sport to inspire young people to reach their potential, in some of the most high-need areas in England and Wales.

More than half a million people have benefited to date.

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