More than a game

How Premier League helped Orient support local youngsters

19 Mar 2024
Janna, Leyton Orient

League One club among thousands being supported on and off the pitch by Premier League funding

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When Janna was at primary school in East London, she loved playing football so much she joined in with the boys during lunchtimes.

Now thanks to support from the Premier League and Leyton Orient, she is developing her game and proving an inspiration to other young women in her area.  

After Janna moved to secondary school, she was able to channel her love for the game and her development at Premier League Kicks sessions run by the local football club Orient and their charitable foundation, Leyton Orient Trust.

Janna, Leyton Orient

League One side Orient are one of 90 clubs across the Premier League, English Football League and National League who, through funding from the Premier League, provide Premier League Kicks.  

These clubs work with 36 police forces to provide young people in their local communities with access to free weekly football sessions and education workshops in safe and supportive community environments. 

The Premier League funded almost £700,000 to Orient between 2019 and 2022 to deliver community programmes such as Premier League Kicks to people in their local area.  

This funding was part of a total of £3.43million the club received in that three-year period from the Premier League, which included £1.4m in core funding and a further £1.34m for their Academy. 

Leyton Orient PL payments

In the last 12 months, the club have also received £2.25m from the Premier League, including £750,000 for a new hybrid pitch at their Brisbane Road stadium delivered through the Premier League Stadium Fund.

The League has committed to investing £1.6billion to the wider game and communities from 2022-2025.

Of this, £400m will go to funding projects including the development of facilities and community and education programmes, such as Janna’s Premier League Kicks. 

Overall, this Premier League funding is the biggest voluntary contribution to communities and other good causes of any football league in the world. 

Now, 14, Janna is still benefiting from Premier League funding as she has gone on to develop her game further with Orient's U14s age group at their Emerging Talent Centre (ETC). 

She is one of 5,000 girls enrolled at 73 ETCs nationwide. These ETCs aim to put girls aged eight to 16 on the pathway to a career in professional football.  

Since the beginning of the 2022/23 season, the Premier League has invested £5.25m into The FA ETCs, which has helped to more than double the number of girls. 

This investment is part of £21m that the Premier League is putting into women’s and girls’ football between 2022-2025. 

Janna has found that playing football has helped her to develop as a person too, growing her confidence.  

"Football has helped me because in football, you have to be more vocal, more confident when you are playing,” Janna says. “When I play, I have to shout a lot so it helps me to know other players and then when I'm off the pitch to talk to everyone because I don't really talk to others if I don't have to.” 

That confidence has meant that she has begun to volunteer with Leyton Orient Trust, the club’s charitable foundation working in the local community and can act as a role model to other girls.  

For this reason, she was recently recognised as a Community Captain as part of the Premier League’s More Than a Game campaign and was presented with a unique captain's armband and pennant by former Lioness Rachel Yankey.

Janna, Rachel Yankey

"Playing with my hijab isn't something that stops me, because everywhere I go everyone is really positive,” she says.

“It makes me feel part of the team as well - just because I'm the only one wearing a hijab doesn't mean that I have to be the one being treated differently. 

"Everyone is treated the same and having fun together." 

For Emma Thorne, youth engagement lead development coach at the trust and centre manager of their ETC, Janna's Community Champion accolade is a reward for both her development as a footballer and inspiration to others. 

"Janna is one of our participants who has really gone above and beyond in terms of engagement with us," said Thorne. "She has represented us in tournaments both on the Kicks programme and on our ETC programme. 

"Janna has now started her volunteering journey with us, so she is learning the ropes around coaching and even refereeing. 

"She's taken every opportunity that we've thrown at her and she's made it her own. Janna's absolutely run with it to help her develop on-pitch and off-pitch. She's a brilliant example of the kind of people we engage." 



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