Bolasie The New Karate Kid!

by Jennie Kozlowski

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Everton star Yannick Bolasie recently took part in an Everton in the Community ‘Kicks’ session in Toxteth to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Premier League funded programme.

The summer signing visited Firefit to join EitC coaches and local young people in a short skills football session before getting involved in a Karate Kicks session delivered by Hisham Saif, World European and British Shotokan Karate Champion.

The charity’s Youth Engagement team has been delivering Kicks across Merseyside for 10 years and uses sports and the arts to empower young people at risk of involvement in crime and anti-social behaviour. The programme is funded by the Premier League and Merseyside Police and works towards creating stronger, more respectful communities through football.

After honing his karate technique, Bolasie said:“It’s been an honour to come down here tonight and spend some time with these kids. Football is a sport that everyone enjoys and it is great way to bring local youngsters in to engage with them and keep them off the streets and out of trouble. We didn’t have schemes like this when I was a kid, this is incredible and I’m happy that the Premier League and Everton in the Community has had such success with it over the last 10 years.”

Lee McArdle, Kicks Development Coach, added:“We deliver from Toxteth Firefit almost every day of the week and deliver over 20 Kicks sessions a week. Whilst these kids are here with us they are safe and keeping out of trouble. We work with young people from many different background and help them stay fit and active as well as encouraging them to make positive and impactful life choices.”

The last decade has seen Everton in the Community’s Kicks sessions engage with over 6,000 young people and last year reduced anti-social behaviour by 73 per cent and crime rates by 75 per cent in Merseyside during session times. Each year over 100 young people aged 19-25 years old will volunteer and gain valuable work experience on the programme. 

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