Football is helping to reduce anti-social behaviour and crime by engaging youngsters in Newport....

A new football initiative has come to Gwent in a bid to reduce anti-social behaviour and crime in Newport.

The Premier League Kicks project in partnership with Gwent Police, Newport County, Communities First and Newport Live aims to build safer, stronger, and more respectful communities by developing young peoples’ potential.

The project is in place across the UK but has now come to Gwent with the idea to engage young people by delivering football sessions which will help to encourage them to participate in sporting activity, all free of charge. The initiative aids eight to nineteen year olds who have previously proven difficult to reach by guiding them into a healthy and constructive future.

On a weekly basis the partners team up to deliver the sessions and training to prepare the youngsters to compete in tournaments. Currently two competitions have taken place where more than a hundred young teenagers turned up on each occasion to play a match against each other. From this thirteen young people were chosen to represent Newport County’s Kicks team and play in a tournament against Aston Villa’s Kicks team. The team travelled to Villa Park and played a nine-a-side match, which finished with a seven – six win to Aston Villa. This was a great day out for all young people involved and was an opportunity they won’t forget.

Gwent Police Constable Paul Turner said: “As the Bettws and Malpas ward manager, I felt it was vitally important to look at ways of reducing anti-social behaviour in and around the Newport area. Primarily, the initiative focuses on bringing communities together and engaging with young people through a variety of activities, in this case football. I would like to thank all involved for bringing this to fruition. The enthusiasm from our partners has been outstanding. It is a fantastic opportunity for the youngsters of Newport to take part in such a prestigious programme and I urge all to get involved.’

Newport County AFC, Premier League Kicks Coordinator, Liam Jenkins said: “The Premier League Kicks Project has made a difference across Newport. Young people who attend weekly have mentioned a massive sense of excitement every week, leading up to the big Kicks tournaments. The Kicks project provides opportunities for young people to feel a part of something and realise their potential through competitive and friendly participation in sport. It has been great up until now and I can see it only growing over the coming months.”

Newport Live, Sport Development Officer, Leigh Williams said: “The Premier League Kicks programme has been a great success in its first year of existence. It has helped project retention and keep ‘at risk’ of offending young people engaged in positive activity. Many of the young people are not involved in mainstream football clubs and being part of the Kicks programme has given them a sense of belonging and an identity. May the great link with Newport County continue over the coming months and years.”

Communities First, Local Coordinator, Danielle Seivwright said: “The Premier League Kicks programme has proven to be a great success in Newport. It has enhanced our local Friday night provisions and has given our young people something to focus on. It is great to see young people, community members and partner agencies come together to support each other. Although football is the main emphasis of the night, team cohesion and community spirit is what makes the tournament days special.”

This isn’t just a one off initiative either, it is something that will continue on a regular basis up until the Summer of 2017 where there will be a tournament held at Rodney Parade of all the regional ‘winners’ for an overall winner to be confirmed.

Source:: Gwent Police News

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