Neville Southall offers to help youngsters into work

Helping young people is better than winning medals, says Southall

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Football legend Neville Southall is looking for opportunities to work with young people in Wales, saying helping them achieve is better than anything he achieved on the football pitch.

The goalkeeper, who was capped 92 times for Wales, has been working in England with youngsters not in employment, education or training (Neets).

The former Everton star admits helping 16 to 24-year-olds is challenging.

He told the BBC's Sunday Politics show he wants to bring his work to Wales.

Start Quote

There is a little friction but I hope that friction will pass and we can all get on with doing what we need to do to help the kids”

End Quote Neville Southall

Llandudno-born Southall, who won League, FA Cup and European medals during the 1980s, said helping young people find their way in life was even more rewarding.

"I can make people happy at the weekend or on a Tuesday night when I'm playing for Everton by getting a result but when you can see a young person develop over six to eight months, they change," he said.

"Once you see the change it is more satisfying than any football I've done in my life".

He added: "When you see that kid actually go, 'yes I'm worth something' - that's better than all your medals surely.

"And you think, 'yes this kid's got it, he's confident' ... it's absolutely brilliant."

Southall, 54, has been mainly working for English local authorities carrying out education and training to build confidence through sport, with sessions inside the classroom and on the training pitch.

Obstacles

But now his attention is turning to Wales.

"I took my qualifications in all fairness specifically looking to come to Wales to do this," he said.

"We are very close to teaming up with a college in Llanelli but we want to go out into the valleys and all the way through Wales."

But Southall added one of the main obstacles facing his quest is funding.

"At the moment it's proving quite difficult for lots of different reasons and at some point we need to sit down and iron out where we go and how we get the funding in.

"It's quite difficult at the moment but you'd like to think that I could work in Wales being a Welshman.

"I think it's like anything else - I come in from what I suppose is a different country and people are worried about what they do and what I do.

"There is a little friction but I hope that friction will pass and we can all get on with doing what we need to do to help the kids."

According to the latest figures, Wales has the highest proportion of Neets of any UK nation or region.

Around 57,400 young people in Wales - more than a fifth of its 19-to-24 year olds - fell into that category in 2011 although the Welsh government says the number is levelling off.

In April, Labour ministers launched a £75m Jobs Growth Wales programme to create 12,000 temporary jobs for 16 to 24-year-olds.

Sunday Politics Wales is on BBC One Wales at 11:15 BST on Sunday 14 October.

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