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.
One person who has benefitted from their involvement is Harri Stevens, of Swansea, who has been named as a Premier League Kicks “Local Legend” by the Swansea City AFC Foundation as part of the programme’s 15-year anniversary.
Premier League Kicks began in the 2006/07 season in partnership with the Metropolitan Police, with the aim of involving and supporting young people in regular, positive, and fun activity, whilst helping to create stronger, safer, more inclusive communities.
As part of the 15-year celebrations, clubs have nominated a Premier League Kicks ‘Local Legend’ – somebody who has taken part in, volunteered, or worked on the programme and has inspired others through their dedication, work ethic and own personal development. Each nominee will receive a bespoke ‘Local Legend’ football card, which has been created with support from Premier League partner Panini.
Harri, aged 12, was chosen as Swansea City AFC Foundation’s Premier League Kicks Local Legend because of his great attitude, both on and off the football pitch, which stands out during the Kick sessions as well as his passion for football. Harry is also a player for his local grassroots team, Seaside AFC.
Harri, who has been involved with Swansea City’s Premier League Kicks activity for two years, said:
“I’ve been coming to Premier League Kicks for about two years now – I think Craig is the best manager who makes me laugh, I just love playing football with my friends and it makes me happy. My brother, Cody, made me get into football and I want to play like Marcus Rashford.
“I used to get proper angry when I was playing football, but Craig and the coaches make me feel happier now and I’ve learnt that through Kicks. I think my Panini card is brilliant, I was so shocked to receive it. I’m going to hang it up in the living room so all my family can see it.”
The Swansea City AFC Foundation began its Premier League Kicks delivery in the 2012/13 season and has since grown from engaging 42 people to reach 10,888 young people in Swansea in the past nine seasons – delivering more than 7,768 hours of Premier League Kick sessions.
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand said: “Legend is a word you hear a lot in football, but legends aren’t just created in stadiums. The coaches, mentors, volunteers and participants who are fulfilling their potential thanks to these weekly sessions all deserve to be called legends.
“For 15 years Premier League Kicks has been using the universal language of football to bring communities together and inspire a new generation of young people, providing positive role models who can give them belief and can help to steer them on the right path in life.”
As well as providing young people with access to free football and sports activities, Premier League Kicks offers mentoring, life skills advice and access to opportunities like volunteering to help aid their development.
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.
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: “We are proud of the incredible impact Kicks has had on communities up and down the country over the past 15 years. As we mark the anniversary, this is an opportunity to celebrate the local legends who have helped make Premier League Kicks what it is.
“The success of the programme would not have been possible without the hard work and passion of club staff, coaches and volunteers working alongside young people at Kicks sessions, week in, week out.”
Clubs also run workshops on a variety of social issues, enabling young people to openly discuss topics that affect them, like equality, diversity and inclusion and combatting youth violence and knife crime. The programme also sees clubs work with 36 territorial police forces throughout the country – with regular sessions taking place in disadvantaged areas.
Dyfed Powys Police support the delivery of the Kicks sessions in Swansea. Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llewellyn commented: “We wanted to reduce the amount of anti-social behaviour with youths congregating in the evenings and give them an alternative really and what better way to do it than to engage with football and the Premier League Kicks programme. There are now hundreds of children coming here on a regular basis and that has been developed across the force area.”
“We have invested money in the project and seen it grow from a one site endeavour to a session that is run every day of the week in different locations and the idea is to have hundreds, if not thousands, engaged through this programme.”