More than a game

The people whose lives were changed by the Premier League

15 Feb 2024

See how Premier League investment has given Tayla, Zahra and Jamie the opportunities to change their lives

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The Premier League “More than a game” campaign is showcasing how its wide-ranging investment into all levels of football enables people connected to clubs to have a positive impact on their local communities.

Here are three more people who have benefitted from the Premier League’s commitment to investing £1.6billion to the wider game and communities in the three years between 2022 and 2025.


(Warning: This story contains references to suicide)

In 2019, teenager Tayla was at a low. She had Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) in her leg, which left her in excruciating pain and unable to engage in everyday life.

"It took away everything,” she said. “I was bed-bound. I had no friends. I couldn't go to school. It took over my life. I was suicidal because I thought that no one was listening to me. I couldn't cope with the pain.”

It was determined that the best solution was amputation. "It was the best decision I've ever made because I'm out of pain and I'm able to live life,” Tayla said.

While amputation helped Tayla, it gave her new challenges that the Wolves Foundation have helped her to overcome.

"I've always loved football and used to play when I was younger but when this happened, I thought, 'I'm not going to play football again,'" she said. "I'd heard about the Wolves Foundation, and the idea of coaching sounded really good."

After volunteering with the Foundation, which is part of Wolverhampton Wanderers, Tayla became a casual coach.

"I coach a pan-disability team and to get that opportunity is mind-blowing really,” she said. “I never thought I would be in this position. Just seeing the faces of the participants, the joy that they have of playing football and just how much it means to them, it's amazing to be able to be part of that.

"Being around people with different disabilities, you get to know them and how they cope. I guess I'm there to support them and be a role model. I don't see myself as an inspiration, I just see myself as living my life.

"The Wolves Foundation don't care if I have a disability. They want you to be part of their team and just want to be able to help you in any way that they can.”

As well as now coaching Tayla has also begun a university degree and her ambitions are growing.

"The future that's unfolding is massive,” she said. “My goal is to have a team of my own and be a full-time coach.”

Wolves Foundation are one of 106 professional football Club Community Organisations (CCOs) across the Premier League, EFL and National League, supported by the Premier League Charitable Fund (PLCF).

The PLCF was established in 2010 to create positive sporting, health, personal and education opportunities for children, young people and the wider community.

The Premier League has invested more than £290million in the PLCF since then, with the last decade seeing a quadrupling of the level of funding, including £36m this season.

Tayla is one of more than 2.2m participants on PLCF-funded programmes who have benefited from face-to-face delivery, with 1.1m young people engaged annually through digital resources. In addition, CCOs employ more over 6,200 people to deliver activities.

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As a student Zahra was often a disruptive influence in her classes at the Bolton Muslim Girls’ School, and frequently in detention. 

"I was a troublemaker," she said. "I wasn't a fan of going to lessons. I didn't really care about education, I'd misbehave and have problems with my focus."

But with the guidance and support of Bolton Wanderers in the Community (BWitC) and Premier League Inspires, her attitude to learning has completely changed.

Premier League Inspires engages with young people at risk of not reaching their potential to help develop their skills. 

BWitC works with Bolton Muslim Girls’ School and from the first session, Bolton PL Inspires project officer Jordan Morris began to focus on growing Zahra’s confidence, teamwork and resilience. 

Zahra and her friends were asked to develop ideas for the annual Premier League Inspires Challenge, a social action project which this year focuses on the environment and sustainability. Zahra found herself excelling as a group leader. 

"They made me feel like I had a sense of belonging because I had a team, they chose me for any jobs to do,” she said. “I felt more confident."

As well as learning so much about environmental issues, Zahra has developed a sense of responsibility. "Now when I see a problem, I automatically want to change it,” she added. “Being part of a project to help the local community makes me feel so proud.

"I realised that if I can lead this project and make it what it is now, then I can study and make my exam results higher. It was the motivation I needed. My grades have improved massively.

"I am a new person compared to the one I was in September. I’ve done this project; I've made posters and delivered a Dragon's Den pitch. It’s been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Zahra is one of more than 29,000 young people from across 960+ schools and educational facilities to have received support via Premier League Inspires. More than £11.1m has been invested by the Premier League, via the PLCF, into the programme, which is delivered by 45 CCOs.

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By his own admission, Jamie was “a parent from hell”. Watching his son play football was not giving him or his son the sense of joy it should have.

"After he would finish playing, I would grill him about his game, what he did wrong and I was making him uncomfortable,” Jamie said. "It was getting to a stage where he didn't want to play any more."

But with help from the Premier League and PFA Community Fund, Jamie is now a better dad and his helping other youngsters to develop their game.

Jamie enrolled on a FA Level 1 coaching course as part of the Football Plus programme, which is supported by the Premier League and PFA Community Fund and uses regular grassroots football activities as a platform to raise awareness of important social issues.

Players and parents are offered opportunities to engage with topics such as touchline conduct and attitudes towards officials. Wider topics addressed include healthy living, anti-bullying, respect, fair play and anti-racism.

"I realised that everything I was doing on the sideline was wrong," Jamie said. "Looking back, if I carried on the way I did, he wouldn't be playing football now. Being on that course changed the whole way I parent as well. It opened up my eyes about how I speak to my children, and now other children at football. I talk to them, not at them.”

Thanks to the course, Jamie is now a sessional coach and role model with Arsenal's charitable arm, Arsenal in the Community.

"I am a better person for it, a better dad, which is the most important thing for me,” he added. “I can't thank Arsenal enough."

More than £46m of funding from the Premier League and PFA has been distributed to CCOs by the PLCF over the last 14 years.

The fund has engaged more than 230,000 participants in over 330,000 sessions across England and Wales, helping clubs to develop partnerships to tackle inequalities and respond to local needs.

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