Abi's story: PL Inspires has boosted my confidence

14 Nov 2023

Discover how one student is enjoying school life again thanks to Wigan Athletic Community Trust

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For the last four years, Premier League Inspires has helped secondary school students at risk of not reaching their potential to develop social skills and re-engage with education.

One of the young people who has benefited from the programme is Abi, who attends Atherton High School in Wigan.

"I used to feel really closed off and I used to have panic attacks before coming to school," Abi says. "I felt scared to get things wrong."

But with the help of Wigan Athletic Community Trust and their Education Officer Steve Bower, Abi engaged in face-to-face group sessions, workshops and the PL Inspires Challenge social-action project, and she is enjoying school again.

"She was notably quiet but by the end of it she was more chatty, she came in with a smile on her face and she'd be happy taking part in the sessions," Steve says. "I don't think we could be any prouder really."

Presentation skills

An example of Abi's improved confidence was highlighted when she got involved in the latest Premier League Inspires Challenge, a social-action project that this year focused on environmental sustainability.  

Her team's idea was to create bird feeders from plastic bottles and Abi helped to present this proposal to Wigan Athletic Community Trust and school staff.

"When we did the presentation I felt nervous but I felt quite proud of myself because I never speak in front of people," she says. "On the days I was doing Premier League Inspires, it made me feel more confident and happy to come into school."

And together with other Atherton High students, Abi also completed the Princes Trust Achieve award, which involved working on wellbeing, mental health and teamwork skills.

"She was quite shy, but she always had the ability to be a very confident person," says Joe Potts, Atherton High School's Head of Year 9. "With the support from Wigan Athletic and the PL Inspires programme, she's been able to put her panic attacks aside.

"I would recommend PL Inspires to any high school because the impact that it has had on the students, socially, emotionally, as well as the mental health improvements, has been fantastic."

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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