Zaha returns to Premier League Kicks with Palace for Life Foundation
Wilf Zaha joined participants from Palace for Life Foundation’s Premier League Kicks session in Croydon to celebrate a commitment from the Premier League to fund the community programme for another three years.
The Palace star, who grew up in Croydon and attended Kicks sessions with the Foundation during his teenage years, visited the Legacy Youth Zone on Whitehorse Road to meet young footballers, cheerleaders and boxers.
The continued investment from the Premier League will enable more than 175,000 young people to access Premier League Kicks sessions across England and Wales by 2022.
Wilf Zaha said: “Kicks was a big part of my childhood, it gave me somewhere to play football near my house so when I wasn’t training with Palace I always had somewhere else to go and practice my skills with my friends. It’s good to know it’s continuing and growing and that more young people in Croydon will get that same chance.”
Premier League Kicks gives young people access to free football sessions, sports sessions and workshops, providing them with opportunities, support and pathways to achieve their full potential. Palace for Life Foundation work closely with young people and partners in the local area, including the Metropolitan Police, Legacy Youth Zone and Croydon Council to create stronger, safer and more inclusive communities.
Aimed at eight-to-18-year-olds, Kicks engages young people in positive activities through their passion for football, whilst also addressing topics covering everything from equality and inclusion to youth violence and knife crime.
Premier League Kicks Coordinator at Palace for Life Foundation John Patrick said: “It’s my job to make sure these sessions are fun and engaging so it’s been really special to have Wilf here today, he knows all about the benefits of Kicks from his own experience.
“Kicks gives young people something to do after school, it keeps them out of trouble and gives them opportunities, not everyone is into football, so offering a variety of sports is really important.
“We work really closely with partners in the community, like Legacy Youth Zone, Croydon Council and the local police, to ensure Kicks impacts as many young lives as possible.”
Legacy Youth Zone Chief Executive Barnabas Shelbourne added: “We are delighted to have welcomed Wilf Zaha to Legacy Youth Zone. By working together with Palace for Life and the community, we are investing in young people to enable them to reach their full potential and prepare them for a promising future. We are excited for our partnership with Palace for Life Foundation because it means that we can continue to ensure that young people in Croydon have access to a wealth of specialist sporting activities all year round.”
Premier League support will see the programme grow so that 90 Premier League, EFL and National League clubs are able to deliver sport and education sessions in hundreds of local communities where projects are needed most. With a focus on integration, equality and inclusion, thousands more girls will be engaged, and clubs will deliver ever more inclusive sessions.
Palace for Life Foundation has been running Premier League Kicks sessions for the past 13 years since the programme launched in 2006 and has encouraged thousands of participants to take part in positive activity.
The next three years of the programme will also see more targeted provision for young people requiring extra support. Working in partnership with Children in Need, 48 professional football clubs will provide mentorship and guidance to young people, inspiring them to realise their potential.
One of the young people who has been supported through Breaking the Cycle, Palace for Life Foundation’s targeted intervention programme that has been supported by Children in Need and the William Wates Memorial Trust is 14-year-old Rebecca.
Rebecca was initially referred to the programme by her school and has gone from strength to strength, building her confidence and signing for Sutton United FC a few months ago.
Rebecca said: “It’s really helped me and I’ve had lots of good experiences through Palace, I got to go to Downing Street to meet the Prime Minister and I’ve been able to play more football now I have a team at Sutton.”
Premier League Executive Director Bill Bush added: “The Premier League Kicks programme has been running successfully through our clubs and many across the EFL for thirteen years. To show our commitment to young people and communities, we are investing further to ensure its continuation for another three years, until 2022.
“Kicks is our flagship community programme and we are pleased that with the support of clubs and partners across the country, not least the police, we can continue to positively impact young people, providing them with opportunities and pathways that they may not have been able to access. Twenty per cent of current Premier League Kicks staff are former participants or volunteers, which goes to show how a long-term commitment can provide support and pathways for young people to better themselves, in turn allowing them to be a positive influence to others growing up in their community.”
More information on the national PL Kicks programme and its objectives can be found at HERE.