Talha's story: Youth Panel gave me the opportunity to do big things

By Mark Orlovac 28 Jan 2024
Protect the Planet 2023, Talha, Huddersfield

One PL Kicks participant from Huddersfield has been working for a greener future with the Protect the Planet project

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Talha is no stranger to playing a positive role in his local community.

As well as taking part in Premier League Kicks with the Huddersfield Town Foundation, he is an active member of his local mosque where he has planned and delivered a variety of projects such as protecting a nearby greenspace and serving hot meals in the town centre during the cold winter months.

Talha's commitment to social action has not only been recognised by Huddersfield but also by the Premier League Charitable Fund, who selected him as a member of their #iwill Protect the Planet Youth Panel.

The Youth Panel is a group of 14 young people from across the country who have come together to lead, inform and deliver the PLCF's social action environmental project which culminated in an inspiring Protect the Planet celebration event in Liverpool in November.

"I was asked to join the Youth Panel and I saw the chance to be a part of something that could become great," he says. "I've got an opportunity to do big things and make a name for myself.

Protect the Planet, Youth Panel

"From the start we had the aim of making the event happen. It kept building and building and in the end, we conquered it."

The celebration at Liverpool's Anfield Stadium brought together clubs and young people from across the country in the name of sustainability and protecting the environment.

Participants from Premier League Kicks, Premier League Primary Stars and Premier League Inspires were able to take part in workshops and present their social action ideas for tackling climate change.

"I saw young kids smiling and I felt that we were the reason for them smiling," he says. "I felt like I achieved something, that I've made their day and that I made a difference.

"I was proud that we were able to get people to attend. Our aim was to spread awareness so if these young children are passionate about the environment, when they grow older they can do something about it and do the same thing we are doing."

Delivering such a significant event has involved plenty of work for the Youth Panel over the last few months as they held meetings and presented ideas - giving them plenty of skills they can take into further education and beyond.

"I've learned a lot," he says. "Mistakes happen or you might get a setback but you've just got to try your best, keep striving and break through the barriers.

"I wasn't as confident in speaking with large crowds and getting involved. But as we went along, I have become more confident; I have become more of a public speaker. I can happily speak to people without any problems.

"There's no planet B so we've got to take care of planet A. This is our home. There are no trees, grass, flowers or beautiful things on other planets. We've been blessed so we should appreciate it and take care of it."

Despite having achieved so much during this year, Talha is showing no signs of slowing down. He is using his Premier League Kicks and Protect the Planet experience to help strengthen the relationship between the Huddersfield Town Foundation and the mosque, to support more people to get involved in the club's community initiatives.

"When I go back to the mosque and work again with Huddersfield Town, I can explain what we did and try to get the same thing in other places."

That's for the future. For now, Talha says he is grateful to Huddersfield Town and PL Kicks for helping him make a difference.

"If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be in this situation," he says. "It was the interaction I had that got me involved.

"The relationship between Huddersfield, PL Kicks and the mosque is so important. We all came together and by striving, contributing and having ideas, we achieved certain goals. We couldn't do it on our own."

Launched in August 2022, and designed to reduce the barriers to participation in youth social action, the Protect the Planet Challenge increases young people's knowledge and understanding about environmental sustainability and empowers them to positively influence climate change action in their local communities.

More than 2,400 young people representing more than 90 professional football club community organisations from across England and Wales have taken part in the Challenge to date.

Also in this series

Part 1: Young people working for a greener world
Part 2: 'Protect the Planet has empowered our students'
Part 3: Hayden-Smith - Protect the Planet gives young people a voice

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