England

Premier League Kicks 'successful' in West Midlands

Birmingham City Football ground Image copyright PA
Image caption Birmingham City Football Club is among five clubs involved in the region's Kicks project

A national project that aims to steer youths into football and away from trouble has had a successful first year in the West Midlands, say organisers.

Teenagers have been playing evening games of football at 38 venues, under the Premier League Kicks programme.

In its first year, 5,123 young people were involved, nearly double the number expected, the Premier League said.

West Midlands Police said the project, which involves five top football clubs, had been funded for two more years.

Five football clubs, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Coventry City, have received funding from the Premier League, Sport England and the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner since September, 2013.

Its first year has been marked at Birmingham International Futsal Arena.

Image caption Assistant Chief Constable Garry Forsyth is among supporters of the Kicks project

Dasin Shamdeen, 16 and from Coventry, said he had been involved since the start after being handed a leaflet while playing football in a park.

"I invited a lot of friends and brought everyone down," he said.

"I've really enjoyed it. It has created a lot of opportunities for people."

Dasin, who now helps Kicks staff organise games and tournaments, said 50 to 100 teenagers played football at Coventry's AT7 centre twice a week.

Garry Forsyth, Assistant Chief Constable with West Midlands Police, said the force had given £225,000 from its Proceeds of Crime funds to support Kicks.

"We are in a society where there are not many activities that are freely available to engage young people due to austerity measures," he said.

Premier League Kicks begun in 2006 as a partnership between the Premier League and Metropolitan Police to use the "power of football" to build safer and stronger communities.

More than 11,00 youngsters involved have become project volunteers, while 500 have become employees of the clubs, the Premier League said.

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