More than a game

Burnley honour Jamaal with Community Captain award

23 Feb 2024

Former PL Kicks participant rewarded for outstanding work connecting with and uniting his local community

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When a young Jamaal Sajid joined a couple of his friends playing football at a Premier League Kicks session run by Burnley FC in the Community (BFCitC), becoming a mentor for other young people was far from his mind.

Fast forward to 2024 and Jamaal works in the role of PL Kicks Captain, part of is BFCitC's peer-to-peer support system that enables young people to be a role model for new and existing participants, allowing them to have a voice for the sessions they attend.

He has also supported the charity by utilising the Clarets Youth Board platform to share his thoughts and pitch his ideas with senior members of BFCitC, while providing staff with ideas for educational workshops, referring friends and college members to their sessions, and encouraging others to access all the programmes they offer.

Jamaal has been rewarded for his journey and the impact on his local community by having a unique mural painted at the local Leisure Box facility, which hosts weekly PL Kicks sessions, as he was named as Burnley's Community Captain as part of the Premier League's “More than a game” campaign.

Jamaal Sajid mural

"I thought I was coming here to do a presentation to Year 11s," said Jamaal. "Then I see my family and friends and then this big mural! It was a bit of a shock really. It was like a surprise birthday party! It's surreal. I thought I was dreaming."

Surprise number two came when Burnley stars Josh Cullen and Jay Rodriguez presented Jamaal with a Community Captain award pennant and special captain’s armband.

Jamaal Sajid, Josh Cullen
Jamaal Sajid 2

"The title is Premier League Community Captain and I think what that means for me is just being there as a pillar in the community, giving help where it's needed, connecting everyone together and uniting the whole community," said Jamaal.

For Lewis Hickie, BFCitC's Youth Engagement Manager, seeing Jamaal's development is a reward for his engagement with the PL Kicks programme, which uses football in a positive way to help young people realise their potential.

"Jamaal has got this honour because he is an absolutely incredible young man," said Hickie.

"He supports everything Burnley FC in the Community does from Premier League Kicks; he's on our Youth Board, he supports all the young people throughout their support system, he supports staff on a weekly basis - and he's just got a conditional offer at Cambridge University to study medicine."

'Brilliant achievement'

Burnley midfield star Cullen added, "It's a brilliant achievement for him. His family, his friends, I'm sure they are all really proud.

"It's been a pleasure to come down and give him a little surprise and give him the reward for all the hard work he's done in the community."

Cullen was also impressed with BFCitC's PL Kicks programme and with the Leisure Box facility - which was partly funded by the Premier League The FA and Government via the Football Foundation - one of their regular venues.

"PL Kicks is a great opportunity for young boys and girls to come along and play football in a safe space," added Cullen. "With no charge too, so no pressure on parents or family to be able to afford it, which is a really good thing."

Burnley helping their local community

Last season BFCitC hosted 880 weekly PL Kicks sessions across 29 venues, with 1,825 young people taking part, including 612 girls.

PL Kicks is the League’s longest-standing community programme and began in the 2006/07 season. The Premier League has invested £81.6m into the programme.

It has since engaged more than 520,000 young people, delivering over 1m hours of free sessions at 4,900+ venues across England and Wales.

Sessions take place in some of the most-high-need areas, and Burnley is one of the 90 clubs currently delivering the programme.

More than 21,000 volunteers have helped on Kicks, 93 per cent of whom are former participants, with 20 per cent of the workforce former participants.

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