More than a game

How PL Youth Summit gives a voice to young people

By Mark Orlovac 22 Feb 2024
Youth Summit, Premier League

Find out what happened when PL Kicks and PL Inspires participants came together in Burton to share ideas about the future of their programmes

Related Articles
Ami's story: My emotional bond to Swansea City
Protect the Planet: Young people working for a greener world
Lola's story: PL Kicks helping me realise my dreams

Young people are at the heart of the Premier League's work in communities across England and Wales.

As part of that commitment and support, the Premier League Charitable Fund recently held its latest Youth Summit, to give young people aged 16-to-18-years-old the chance to come together and address topics that matter to them.

The event, at the home of Burton Albion, allowed Premier League Kicks and Premier League Inspires participants from 38 professional football clubs to engage in discussions around gender equality, anti-racism, LGBTQ+ issues, environmental sustainability and career pathways.

Participants also heard from inspirational young people, including Sky Sports News reporter Fadumo Olow and Capital Xtra DJ Kennedy Taylor, alongside interactive workshops and sessions devised to support the development of key employability and leadership skills.

Here are the some of the stories from the day.

Naya, West Ham United Foundation
Premier League Kicks, Youth Summit, Naya, West Ham

"I've been part of PL Kicks for two years and I have come a long way. The coaches have given me ideas of various career pathways but they have also helped me socially, giving me other skills such as leadership and how to work in a group.

"The coaches look at your potential and find things which you didn't see in yourself.

"I help out a lot. Our girls' group is growing so they might need a bit of guidance on who should be in what teams, who should help who out. As I'm a player too, I can give them insight which they might not have from an outside perspective. 

"To see what's happened in two years, taking part in a coaching course and having a say in the direction of the programme, it makes you think about what you can do in the next two years. It's setting yourself up for more. 

"It's boosted my confidence and given me direction. It also gives you a little sense of prestige as people will know you for getting involved in programmes and campaigns at a young age.

"You don't realise how influential your role is until someone tells you explicitly. It takes you aback. The younger girls start to look up to you and then you realise that you could be taking on these coaching positions because you can see yourself as a role model. 

"For the future, it's about keeping the door open, taking every opportunity that comes your way and seeing how things go."

Betty, Arsenal in the Community
Youth Summit, Premier League Kicks, Betty, Arsenal

"I've learned a lot from the Youth Summit, from the coaches, from the people with me as well as participants from different teams. I've gained more experience that will help me develop as a coach. I'm so glad for the opportunity.

"A PL Kicks session for me is about being with a lot of friends, it's fun, it's entertaining. There's options for us to play football while also learning at the same time.

"The atmosphere is very welcoming. Everyone is included. We don't leave anyone out. We feel like one big family. There's a lot going on, a lot of opportunities. 

"I've grown up with PL Kicks, it's important for me. I don't know where I would have been without it. It's made me a really confident person and has given me a lot of opportunities that I wouldn't have had.

"I want to become a physio, and I feel that my connection with PL Kicks and with Arsenal could really support me."

Calum, Middlesbrough FC Foundation
Premier League Kicks, Youth Summit, Calum, Middlesbrough

"Being part of the Youth Panel has made me understand where people come from, what they think about, what issues they have.

"Being part of the Youth Summit has been amazing. When I was little, did I ever think I would be here representing Middlesbrough? No!

"It's important youth have a voice because they need to speak out. This generation doesn't help each other sometimes and social media isn't helping.

"I've been at PL Kicks for two years and it's really helped my mental health. The coaches made me feel involved. They are there all the time for me, they've been amazing.

"Without PL Kicks I would in a bad place. It means everything to me. I can talk to the coaches about anything. They helped me and I help them as much as I can by volunteering, supporting others. I wanted to give something back because I know how much I was helped."

Ami, Swansea City AFC Foundation
Premier League Kicks, Youth Summit, Amy, Swansea City

"Young people can sometimes be misjudged and overlooked so having the Youth Panel is important to get young people's voices out there. They come up with ideas sometimes that you would never have thought of yourself.

"At Swansea, we get the children to come down and give their idea on issues that are affecting our community. Our panel partnered with a new initiative to provide boots to families that are struggling with the cost of living.

"They thought about the issues that were going on around them and how they can give as well.

"The Youth Summit is a great opportunity to network. It's a good way to talk to people, get their details because you never know when you're going to need that contact; they could be helpful in some way that you wouldn't expect."

Abdallah, Brentford Community Sports Trust
Premier League Kicks, Youth Summit, Abdallah, Brentford

"I've been with PL Kicks for nine years. Brentford have got me involved in things like this inspirational Youth Summit, tournaments, they've helped me with my CV and helped to build it up for my university applications.

"I've got more responsible since I've been at PL Kicks. I've made my own decisions and I've learned how to organise myself more. I've changed a lot.

"I wanted to become part of the Youth Panel to show other people that it is not difficult to have your say and that you can inspire others.

"While being on the panel I've had a say in shaping sessions and shaping how PL Kicks works. To be involved in that and seeing other people playing football has made me happy.

"It's so important that young people have a voice because they can inspire other people to join this process. They can talk about things that the Premier League does, like No Room For Racism and Rainbow Laces, and so can then talk to other people about discrimination and spread the word."

Callum Fowler, PL Kicks co-ordinator, Pompey in the Community
Youth Summit, Premier League Kicks, Callum Fowler, Portsmouth

"It's massive for the young people to come to an event like this. It's great for them to meet others in similar positions to them so they can get a feel for what it's like around the country.

"It's also really important for them to experience these opportunities, to come to a national event in a place where they might not have been before.

"They'll go home taking a lot away and wanting to do this kind of thing a lot more.

"It's absolutely massive that everyone at the Youth Summit makes their voice heard, because without them PL Kicks doesn't exist. It's crucial that we listen to the participants and work with them.

"Being part of the Youth Panel gives young people an opportunity to grow, increase their confidence and take a step in their career pathway. Putting on a CV that they have led sessions, at a young age as well, is only going to be a big positive in whatever career they want to embark on.

"It gives me immense pride knowing that everything that we're all doing as coaches and clubs is having an impact on people's lives. It's something we will always be grateful for."

Logan, Aston Villa Foundation
Youth Summit, Premier League Kicks, Logan Aston Villa

"I started on PL Kicks when I was eight-years-old, which was long time ago! I used to just do a Friday session and then I ended up doing three to four sessions a week.

"It's a safe place for me because the staff are there to talk to if anything is wrong. They make it enjoyable, fun, and it's helping me develop as a person.

"PL Kicks gives you a lot of skills to help with confidence and being at the Youth Summit, I can now speak to anyone. We've been talking about the campaigns that the Premier League run and I think us coming in, giving our ideas will be a positive thing because at the end of the day, it is our future.

"Going to PL Kicks is one of the best things you'll do, as it's fun, you get to play football and it will also set you up for life. It gives you good values, good morals and you'll just grow in confidence. It's the best step to take."

How PL programmes are helping young people

Participants such as Naya, Ami and Abdallah are among the 550,000 young people who have engaged with PL Kicks and PL Inspires since the programmes launched in 2006 and 2019 respectively.

PL Kicks uses the power of football to creates opportunities for young people and help them realise their potential. Weekly sessions take place in some of the most high-need areas, and to date, over 1m hours of free sessions have been delivered at 4,900+ venues across England and Wales.

More than 29,000 young people aged 11-18 have benefitted from their involvement with PL Inspires, which is predominantly delivered in secondary schools and pupil referral units.

The programme empowers participants to develop personal, social, employability and life-skills, through a series of regular face-to-face group sessions, mentoring, workshops and social-action projects, supporting them to plan for their future.

The Premier League Youth Summit began in season 2020/21, with the aim of involving and supporting young people in positive conversation, while empowering them to tackle issues that affect their communities. More than 1000 young people have contributed to the discussions to date.

Latest Videos

More Videos