The Premier League is celebrating 15 years of its flagship community programme. Premier League Kicks has supported hundreds of thousands of young people to achieve their potential and improve their wellbeing through free weekly football sessions and educational workshops. Inclusivity is at the core of Kicks delivery with Premier League funding enabling clubs to run bespoke sessions to suit local need, which includes girls-only and disability sessions.
To date, the Premier League has invested almost £66 million in Kicks and in the year ahead an estimated 80,000 young people will take part in the programme. Since it began, more than 440,000 young people have participated in Premier League Kicks football and multi-sport sessions held at community venues across England and Wales. The programme started with four pilot clubs and is now run across 936 venues by 90 Premier League, English Football League and National League sides – all funded by the Premier League.
As part of the Kicks anniversary celebrations, representative teams from all 90 Premier League Kicks clubs were invited to attend one of six regional tournaments during February half-term, bringing together more than 1,000 young people.
Northampton Town FC Community Trust’s Premier League Kicks programme sent a team of girls (aged 12-14) and a team of boys (aged 14-16) to the Midlands regional tournament hosted by Leicester City in the Community at New College, Leicester on Sunday 20th February. Participants were chosen from across Northamptonshire’s Kicks sites; Blackthorn, Northampton, Queensway and Hemmingwell, Wellingborough and Rushden, as well as Sir Christopher Hatton’s girls after school club.
The day’s format included a round robin tournament where NTFC girls and boys teams played Kicks teams from these clubs: Leicester City, Nottingham Forrest, Notts County, Derby County, Stoke City, Port Vale, Mansfield Town, Chesterfield. Northampton’s girls team placed 6th our of 9 teams, the boys team placed 5th out of 9 teams. Coach Cameron Marshall said ‘The teams showed good camaraderie, they worked brilliantly as teams, thinking through solutions and managing themselves in regard to substitutions, positioning and skill strengths. It’s amazing to see, as some of them don’t know each other, they should be proud of themselves. They worked really hard.’
The day also included a hearing from clubs’ Kicks ‘local legends’ and ambassadors. NTFC CT’s inclusion and disability coach Cameron Marshall was chosen as he has been a huge positive influence on the programme. He has been coaching all Kicks groups since September 2019 and has inspired others through his dedication, work ethic and his own personal development. He spoke about the benefits of the programme to the participants as well as to him personally.
An important part of Kicks is for participants to widen their personal skills and absorb the message of crime awareness and community cohesion. The afternoon was spent with participants taking part in interactive workshops delivered by Kicks partners: Turning Point (drugs awareness education), T-shirt art, Police (knife crime education) and talking about the effects of violence in local communities.
Feedback from some of Northampton’s participants:
‘I enjoyed playing with different people from other Kicks sites.’ Angie, goalkeeper
‘You can play with lots of different abilities and test your own ability.’ Georgia
‘I really liked the warm up welcome activities in the gym; kicking the ball around and shooting practice against the inflatables.’ Madison.
Premier League Kicks co-ordinator Anna Letts said about the day ‘It is great that our Kicks participants have been able to represent the programme, trust and club in this positive way at the tournament. They enthusiastically turn up every week and work hard to improve their football and personal skills; this is a good way to reward them for their commitment. I am always very proud of all our young people, today this group showed positive attitudes and behaviours and are a credit to NTFC Community Trust and the Kicks programme. I would like to thank Leicester City in the Community’s staff for organising and running such an enjoyable day.’