The Crystal Palace FC Foundation were in the company of Mayor, Boris Johnson, and Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore, last week as we celebrated the success of the London Premier League Kicks Programme inside The Den at Millwall FC Stadium.
We were also joined by Metropolitan Police Commander Mark Chishty and former Chelsea defender Graeme Le Saux as our Palace Kicks team played in a small sided futsal tournament to highlight the power of football in changing young people’s lives.
The Kicks programme has given young people at the risk of crime in the capital a chance to gain volunteering and employment opportunities through football and Crystal Palace are honored to be a part of its success.
Since its inception in London in 2006 the Premier League Kicks programme has reached more than 100,000 young people nationally. This is particularly important in South London as we aim to engage hard to reach young people in vulnerable areas to help change their lives for the better.
Crystal Palace operate the Kicks programme in Croydon and Sutton, having recently organised a friendly match between the two boroughs. The Foundation is passionate about providing all young people with a chance to make the right life choices, with support and guidance from expert Foundation coaches and mentors. We have a commitment to our local young people and have seen many Kicks participants mature in to successful young adults – some have even gained employment with us as sessional coaches.
These young people will become the advocates and role models for the programme over the coming years.
Mayor Johnson said the power of the Premier League and clubs such as Crystal Palace give young people a ‘wonderful’ alternative to involvement with crime, drugs and gang culture.
He added, “We’ve got huge amounts of poverty, deprivation, illiteracy and kids who have a lack of self-esteem. A project like this can totally turn their lives around.”
The launch saw our Crystal Palace team reach the final of the tournament against west London rivals West Ham, who ran out winners in the concluding penalty shoot out.
Le Saux said football gave him life skills in his childhood that helped his career and it could provide a similar platform for success for Premier League Kicks participants.
The Palace Foundation are proud to work alongside legends of the game to increase the profile of this great programme and ensure it continues to enrich the lives of our local young people.
George Henry, Foundation Youth Solutions Officer had this to say: “The launch was a great way to showcase what Crystal Palace and other football clubs are doing in the community. It was also great to show our participants another side of London as well as coming up close and personal with London Mayor, Boris Johnson. This provides an inspiring and lasting experience in the memory of these young people and will go a long way to ensuring their future development remains positive. The team was disappointed to lose in the final but enjoyed the day and it was great to have support from one of the Foundation’s trustee’s Steve O’Connell.”