Everton captain Seamus Coleman has hailed the work of Everton in the Community after helping relaunch the charity’s PL Kicks programme at Litherland High School.
Funded by the Premier League and Children in Need, PL Kicks provides a safe environment for young people aged five to 18-years-old and encourages them to take part in positive activities while having fun and raising their aspirations and confidence.
The Premier League has recently committed to another three years of funding for its PL Kicks programme, enabling more professional football clubs to deliver the programme, thus increasing the number of sessions and workshops available to young people across the country.
The excited students greeted Blues star Coleman with a few renditions of ’60 grand, 60 grand, Seamus Coleman’ before he picked up a badminton racket to try out the sport for the very first time.
He then found himself in more familiar territory, joining in a game of futsal.
“My doubles partner carried me through the badminton,” joked Coleman. “It was the first time I’ve ever tried it, but it was good fun and a few of them were very handy with the racket.
“These kids stay behind with Everton in the Community for a couple of hours a week and get involved with a few different activities like badminton and futsal. The aim is to help keep young people active and, in doing so, keep them off the streets and stop them from getting involved in things or seeing things that they don’t need to at that age.
“I have to say credit to everyone involved who does it and to the excellent team at Everton in the Community. It’s been great to come down and get involved, I really enjoyed it.”
Everton in the Community has been delivering PL Kicks sessions across Merseyside for more than a decade with in excess of 20,000 young people accessing the project so far.
“I say it all the time when I come to an event that, from when I signed for the Club to now, it’s grown massively, and Everton in the Community and everyone involved should be very proud of what they do,” said Coleman.
“Everton in the Community will always do their best in trying to help people. It’s the same with this and all the other programmes, and all credit must go to the people involved.
“It’s a great saying that it’s not just about changing lives, sometimes it’s a case of saving lives," he added.
“There are so many different projects and you speak to so many different people – the charity really does save lives and, for the Club to do that, is brilliant.
“We are very privileged that we can do it but the people should be very proud who have started this and kept it going over the years.”
One of many elements of the PL Kicks programme is educating and promoting positive messages to young people, addressing important topics such as youth violence and knife crime.
On this occasion, Coleman took part in a firework awareness workshop to warn children of the dangers ahead of Bonfire Night.
“PL Kicks works with participants outside of the school hours and encourages positive messages using sport as a tool,” explained Everton in the Community schools link worker Ste Watt. “We’ll also do workshops if there is a particular issue at the moment; for example, giving them a bit of understanding about the dangers of bonfires at this time of year.
“We also work with the children on a day-to-day basis inside the school and then encourage them to come to these sessions in the night so we can build that rapport with the children. They understand us and we understand them, and if we can signpost them to any additional needs then we will do so.”
For more information on PL Kicks and all of Everton in the Community’s programmes, click here.
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