Two young people from our Kickz projects received awards at a high profile ceremony held at Wembley Stadium last week.
At the first ever Kickz Awards, Kyle Stewart (pictured right) and Ruth McCarthy (pictured on homepage) won the Alternative Achievement Award.
Teenagers Kyle and Ruth came up with the idea of a talent show for young people in Haringey to showcase their skills. They worked incredibly hard to get the first show off the ground and the local community hall was packed out.
Building on its success, they set about planning another event for young people from their estates to be given more opportunities to learn about music and showcase their talents.
The next event was at White Hart Lane and was attended by almost 150 young people. Next came flyers, posters, radio ads and negotiations to hire premises and the ‘Laid Back' brand was created.
Without Kyle and Ruth, ‘Laid Back' would have been nothing more than an idea, but their determination and belief helped offer young people from their area something really positive to get involved in.
Key figures from the world of football, sport and politics joined 200 young people from some of the most challenging communities across the country for the Kickz Awards.
The event showcased the most inspiring individuals that have made a difference to their community as part of the programme. Kickz has over 18,000 registered participants aged 12-18 living in tough areas, with high rates of crime.
39 professional football clubs from the Premier League and Football League are delivering over 100 projects in partnership with the Police and local authorities across the country.
Kickz uses the power of football to ‘build safer, stronger, more respectful communities through the development of young people's potential'. A variety of activities including football, other sports, music, arts and developmental workshops on issues ranging from healthy lifestyles to the dangers of carrying weapons are delivered three nights a week, all year round.
The Awards, organised by the Football Foundation, Metropolitan Police and Premier League, also recognised the strong national and local partnerships that lie behind Kickz. Particular appreciation was given to those who do an exceptional job in mentoring and inspiring young people, embedding their project in challenging communities.
Sir Paul Stephenson, Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, said: "The Kickz Project gives thousands of young people the opportunity to receive professional coaching, while also benefiting from workshops promoting life skills and safety advice.
"The success of Kickz is not just solely about providing football opportunities for young people, but also that it allows agencies, such as the Metropolitan Police Service and the Football Foundation, to work in partnership with the local community.
"These national awards recognise the hard work and dedication of those who give up their time for this worthwhile cause - I'm very pleased that I am able to congratulate them personally."
Volunteering is an integral part of the Kickz Programme and hundreds of young people are giving back to their communities every week in support of projects up and down the country. Many are going on to gain qualifications and, in some cases, employment within the Football Clubs community departments.
To recognise the significance and importance of volunteering within Kickz, a young person from all of last season's 30 Kickz clubs were recognised on stage.
Tottenham Hotspur's Kickz Volunteer of the Year was Hanifi Pync.
Kickz was born out of discussions between the Metropolitan Police and Premier League who, along with the Football Foundation, are the primary national partners. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) are also involved in order to represent the interests of other constabularies around the country. 16 other forces are involved in the Programme nationally.
Other partners who have made significant contributions to the development of the Kickz Programme in funding and/or expertise in their respective specialist areas, include The Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), v (The national youth volunteering also charity), The Football League Trust, The FA, The Respect Task Force, The Brit Trust / British Phonographic Industry (BPI), and The Department of Health. Formal links have also developed with Nike and The Greater London Authority (GLA), and Kickz is also an official charity partner of Wembley Stadium.