Over 100 participants from across the club's Premier League Kicks network attended a tournament at Sixfields on Thursday.
Young people aged 8-18 from Blackthorn in Northampton and the Queensway and Hemmingwell areas in Wellingborough as well as Rushden and the Sir Christopher Hatton girls after school club played in an all-inclusive friendly competition, for the first time on the pitch at Sixfields.
The Premier League Kicks programme is run by the Northampton Town Community Trust and has been running since September 2019.
Premier League Kicks inspires children and young people to achieve their potential and improve their wellbeing; working together to build stronger, safer and more inclusive communities. The Community Trust runs free weekly informal football coaching sessions across the county, engaging around 150 children weekly. The crime awareness element of this programme also engages a lot of young people too, along the lines of early intervention and prevention.
The programme aims to use the reach and appeal of football and the network of professional football clubs to regularly engage children and young people of all backgrounds and abilities in football, sport and personal development – providing a trusted, positive influence in high-need areas across England and Wales. Each Kicks project works in partnership with local agencies to respond to the needs of children and young people locally.
Premier League Kicks aims to:
• Increase playing, coaching and officiating opportunities in football and a range of sports (for 8-18-year-olds)
• Enhance physical and mental wellbeing, including self-esteem, ambition and social skills
• Strengthen communities with a culture of volunteering, social action and positive role models
• supporting education, training and employment pathways (focusing on 16-25 year olds)
• Work in partnership with young people, the police and other stakeholders to support the younger generation with the societal challenges they face (e.g. youth violence) and to improve community safety
• Inspire young people to develop positive, supportive relationships with one another and the authorities
• Promote integration and champion equality, diversity and inclusion
For more details please see ntfccommunity.co.uk/pl-kicks
The tournament format involved round robin short games where teams were mixed across PL Kicks sites, football abilities and ages; young people got to play with people they wouldn’t usually.
The focus was on respect, participation and positive engagement. All players received a Cobblers medal and ‘Player of the Season’ trophies were awarded to one participant from each group. Trophies for volunteer and coach of the season were also presented.
• Blackthorn, Northampton: Sam Chappell and Esone Niege.
• Rushden: Ashton Botterill and Jack Thomas
• Queensway, Wellingborough: Leo Williams and Amira Williams
• Hemmingwell, Wellingborough: Ava Panesar and Holly Cole.
• Sir Christopher Hatton girls after school club: Janvi Katwa and Sai Kururaj
• volunteer of the season: Alex Ellson
• coach of the season: Kyle Fraser
Inclusion coach Cameron Marshall said, “The Kicks tournament was a fantastic event, it ran smoothly which is all down to the fantastic support from the staff. It was lovely to see teamwork, respect and seeing lots of amazing goals being scored by the players. It was also good to see the parents cheering and being as enthusiastic as the players. It really set the stadium alight with positivity."
NTFC Community Trust Inclusion officer Anna Letts who is the club's Premier League Kicks co-ordinator, added: “This is an amazing experience for our PL Kicks participants to play on the main pitch at Sixfields. The children were so excited, I know they have been looking forward to it.
"I’d like to thank the club staff for this opportunity and help organising this event. It is not often we are able to invite parents, carers and family members to spectate; they enjoyed this special occasion too. Thank you to our trust staff, PL Kicks coaches, referees from Northamptonshire Sport, our volunteers and PCSOs Peter Littleton and Jody Lee.”