Kicks Project - West Ham United Founation
The West Ham United Foundation Kicks programme began as a pilot project in London between the Premier League and the Metropolitan Police in 2006, with the aim of using football to bring communities together and engage with local young people.
The vision was to build safer, stronger, more respectful communities through the development of young peoples' potential, guiding youngsters who may have otherwise fallen through the cracks, towards a range of healthy and constructive habits.
Newham is in the heart of east London and one of the most deprived boroughs in the country. It has experienced high crime rates, particularly gang crime with the borough cut into several different gang territories.
Funding from the Premier League and Sport England in September 2013, allowed over 3000 young people from Newham to join the Kicks project, and help young people find employment. More than 100 young people are currently volunteering through Kicks helping out with tasks such as setting the sessions and packing away equipment, or leading warm ups. A number of older participants looking to take their first steps towards coaching are working with the younger groups to develop their skills.
The core team of WHU Kicks staff have all been involved in the programme as participants and in total, more than 20 of the current Foundation staff members are Kicks alumni, and many more have used the lessons learned to pursue other career paths.
Since its inception, the Kicks programme has grown massively, with increased funding allowing for further delivery across Newham, Tower Hamlets and Barking & Dagenham and more sessions in hard to reach areas. The number of young people attending our Hub sessions at Beckton continues to grow, and we successfully deliver more sessions than ever before.
In addition to the regular football sessions, Kicks tries to provide young people with opportunities to volunteer, gain accredited qualifications and ultimately, be in a position to gain employment. The project also helps to raise the awareness of local issues via workshops and introduce participants to other opportunities that the Foundation can offer, including our Learning Academy BTEC college programme and the Applied Community Sport Degree in partnership with UEL.
The programme has, and always will, focus on providing young people with opportunities to further themselves through football. We continue to monitor the issues young people are facing to ensure the Kicks programme is best suited to their needs.
Our elite pathway structure has seen several participants who attended Kicks playing for professional football teams. We have also had many players that have been picked up to play for grass-root and semi-professional clubs. Looking further afield, the West Ham United Foundation plans to expand the delivery of Kicks across east London and work with as many young people as possible, in order to provide more young people with the opportunity to gain access to the support they need and help them find employment.