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Howard Boosts Kickz Programme

by Helen Mayo @Everton

Tim Howard was on hand to help celebrate five years of the award-winning Kickz programme on Tuesday evening.

The Blues goalkeeper was joined by Liverpool's Stewart Downing at the celebration event at Stockbridge Village Neighbourhood Centre, to mark the fantastic work undertaken by both clubs to deliver the social inclusion scheme, which works towards tackling the many difficult issues facing young people across the city.

The pair chatted with Kickz participants and then watched from the sidelines as Everton in the Community coaches delivered a coaching session. They were also treated to an energetic performance from Viva Kickz, a music and dance programme formed as a spin-off to the successful original project.

Howard told "As players, it is important to support community events such as this. It is important that these children are inspired to stay off the streets and look to really positive things.

"Community is what is important. You can go to Anfield or Goodison and the lights go out, the wins and losses come and go, but the future of the community is more important.

"Everton is a club that cares. It has won awards for its community work, and it can only do that through consistency and through passion."

Kickz sees Everton in the Community and the LFC Foundation working in partnership with Merseyside Police and the Premier League to run football sessions in areas that have high incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour, including Norris Green, Croxteth, Stockbridge Village, Anfield and Breckfield, to encourage children and young people to develop their potential.

It has a proven track record in helping deprived and underprivileged communities in Liverpool reduce anti-social behaviour and offers young people an alternative way of life.

It is not only popular but successful, Merseyside Police having recorded that the programme contributed to a 79 per cent reduction in crime in areas where the scheme is delivered.

Using the power of football, coaches teach young people about the dangers of gun and knife crime, gangs and other anti-social behaviour, and encourage them to open up and talk about the problems they are facing. The coaches also educate the participants and guide them towards educational and life-changing opportunities.

Paul Nagle, Everton in the Community's Social Inclusion Manager, said: "Kickz is not just about football, it's about changing attitudes and giving local young people something productive to do. Through our work, we try to show young people different routes in life away from violence and crime.

"Our relationship with Liverpool and Merseyside Police is fantastic and this event demonstrates that Kickz is not just about giving young people something to do, but something to strive for."

Forbes Duff, Liverpool FC Foundation's Kickz Officer, said: "Kickz uses the tool of football to engage with young people across our city, and with both clubs working closely together this means we can have a bigger impact on young people in Liverpool."

"Kickz gives young people an alternative option and with the assistance of Merseyside Police we can educate young people on the dangers of key issues such as knife crime, gun crime and gang culture."

Inspector Colin Lewis, Head of Youth Engagement, Merseyside Police said: "Kickz is a crucial engagement programme for young people. Not only does it offer them opportunities for contact with the clubs and football development - it also allows them to develop as young citizens. To see the players here is great and is a measure of the value that both clubs place on their support for young people."

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