The Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Theresa May, has praised the work of Kickz at a reception in the House of Commons to celebrate five years of the innovative project that uses the power and appeal of professional football clubs’ to engage young people who may otherwise be difficult to reach.
Kickz is a partnership between the Premier League and the Metropolitan Police and targets some of the most challenging and disadvantaged communities which suffer from higher rates of crime and anti-social behaviour. It began in 2006 following discussions between Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore and Tim Godwin, Acting Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police, with Tottenham Hotspur one of three London clubs to pilot the project on the Ferry Lane estate in Tottenham.
Five years on, 113 local projects are being delivered by 43 clubs in the Premier League and Football League, helping in excess of 50,000 young people. There are over 650 partners including 61 local authorities, 64 steering groups, all 32 London Boroughs and 19 police force areas.
The reception brought together Kickz participants and partners, as well as MPs from constituencies where many of the 43 clubs operate.
The Home Secretary said: “We all know how many supporters enjoy watching football, but the idea of using its strength to help young people in this way is fantastic. I congratulate Richard Scudamore and Tim Godwin for coming together and making this idea work, because it is obviously having a tremendous impact across the whole country.
“Kickz is a wonderful project and the number of young people involved is great. It’s doing really good work enabling them to not just be taken out of situations in which they might get involved in gangs or crime, but actually giving young people a voice and enabling them to be heard. All those involved in it deserve a great deal of praise, especially those that volunteer, as they make it what it is.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Richard Scudamore who added: “The Premier League and the Police may be behind Kickz but it is the 50,000 participants who have made it a success. So often stereotyped as troublemakers because of where they live, the young people involved in Kickz projects prove time and again how optimistic, creative and talented they are. They have the same aspirations as young people everywhere – to get on in life, enjoy themselves, make friends and give something back to their neighbourhood.”
“Kickz is our greatest community success story. It is a tale of proactive engagement, developing potential, targeting the right people, creating safer communities and building solid partnerships.”
Kickz delivery is targeted geographically at communities where young people are considered to be of greater risk in terms of being affected by crime, either as victims or potential offenders, and over 75% of participants live in the top 30% most deprived areas of the country. In the communities where Kickz takes place, police crime analysis reports have showed very positive trends in the reduction of anti-social behaviour, criminal damage and violence against the person, thanks in large part to 91% of the projects being delivered on a Friday and/or Saturday evening.
Ian McPherson, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, welcomed the benefits that Kickz delivers to the Police. He said: “Kickz is a key partnership for the Police service. Without the support of the Premier League we would struggle in some communities which find themselves in trying circumstances. This is a topical subject but we shouldn’t think that last month’s events are the norm for young people, because they aren’t. Most young people don’t get involved in crime or anti-social behaviour. What Kickz does is provide people who, on occasions, might be bored on estates, with opportunities. The Premier League, whose clubs and players have a massive impact on young people, brings a certain charisma about it and directs young people to see what they can achieve.”
Since its conception, Kickz has embedded a culture of volunteering at each project, as well as tailoring the delivery of accredited outcomes and qualifications to the needs of participants. This results in tangible educational, training and employment outcomes being achieved by young people engaging with Kickz. In those five years 5,052 volunteers have been created, there have been 6,827 qualifications and accreditations gained through Kickz, while an impressive 398 young people have gone on the gain employment with clubs.
One of those 398 is Kyle Stewart (pictured above), a Tottenham Hotspur Foundation coach. Kyle has been involved with Kickz since it began in 2006 and added: “I love Kickz because it gives you the opportunity to be heard. For a lot of young people like me all we really want is a voice. You grow up in a community where you don’t have much influence over what happens around you but Kickz is the opposite of that. It’s hugely rewarding that you can come to a project and it’s solely your project; the coaches come to you and get you heavily involved.
“Kickz also gives young people somewhere to go, the coaches are all qualified and it gives you opportunities beyond Kickz as well. You are playing with your friends, the next thing you know one of them has got a trial for Tottenham Hotspur. It’s a chance to excel and have more ambition. You think this is something I have to be a part of because if you don’t then you’re going to be doing something negative. It’s nice to go home and tell your family all the productive things you’ve done.”
Click here to view the five year celebration document...