Usually, the Premier League Kicks sessions consist of Northampton Town FC Community Trust coaches running free football sessions each week in Northampton and Wellingborough.
This project uses sport as a positive diversionary activity for those young people at risk of crime, ASB and gangs. Funding comes from the Premier League Charitable Fund and the Northants Police Crime Commissioner. Due to the pandemic and lockdown, staff have been running online Zoom sessions as a virtual youth club each week, offered to all Kicks participants across the county. Coaches Brett and Alex have been running a mix of fun activities including fitness exercises, quizzes, games and rather a lot of football talk.
The feedback has been fantastic, and we have reproduced some of the comments below.
“Rushabh was pleased to attend sessions, he said it was great experience. Your staff are doing a brilliant job for keep the kids busy, especially in lockdown. We really appreciate your efforts and time, the kids are a bit fed up being at home so long, this type of session is brilliant for them to divert their mind in quizzing and fun. Thank you again and much appreciated.” Gino Patel, parent of Kingsway PL Kicks participant.
“We really appreciate you doing these sessions. Gabriel really enjoys the sessions and I ask him each week if he wants to do it again and he always says ‘yes’. He loves to play football and of course this is very different at the moment. Thanks for all the prep and taking the time to connect. I wanted you to know it means a lot.”
Karen Cooper, parent of Queensway PL Kicks participant.
“Positives include getting fit whilst having fun. It was fun interacting with other young people and also to do the exercises at the comfort of my house. I have enjoyed talking to other children during lockdown and the fun games at the end of sessions.” Dylan, PL Kicks participant from Queensway.
“I really enjoyed the sessions and the quizzes on Zoom. The quizzes were challenging but fun. My favourite part was when we were able to make the mini football shirt with only paper. Thank you for the hard work you all put in, I appreciate it.” Matthew, PL Kicks participant from Kingsway.
Staying connected during lockdown
During the first few weeks of lockdown, Community Trust staff spoke to every Kicks parent/participant to see how the children were doing, to keep in contact and to encourage them to engage online with us. Coach Brett also sent weekly resources by email for the children to take part in home learning, fun, football and wellbeing activities which the parents opted in to receive.
Restarting the football sessions
During August, the Community Trust are trialling a phased return to practical sessions starting with smaller groups and non contact skills and drills. The risk assessments, protocols and guidance to adhere to is significant, and staff across the trust have attended training and have been working hard to ensure all precautions are in place so sessions can restart.
Premier League Kicks’ regular groups from Queensway and Kingsway in Wellingborough started attending sessions on Tuesdays this week based at Old Grammarians Ground and will run for the next few weeks with coaches Brett, Mark, Jamie and Lewis. The young people are very enthusiastic to be back at training and the parents possibly more so to get them out of the house, active and happy! Some of the participants commented that this is the first exercise they’ve had for a few months and that they enjoyed playing football again after such a long break.
“Thank you NTFC Community Trust. I think this is a great covid code of conduct and we appreciate the precautions you are putting in place and the high standards that you are expecting.” Karen Cooper, parent of Gabriel, Queensway PL Kicks participant.
“This is amazing news, I am so pleased to see that the sessions are to be held face to face again, this is just what the children and young people need. Well Done.” Tonya Kingham, Locality Connector for Wellingborough and East Northants, Children First, Northamptonshire County Council (PL Kicks partner)