Liam Watson Named MFC Foundation’s Premier League Kicks ‘Local Legend’ As Community Programme Marks 15-year Anniversary

LIAM Watson has been named MFC Foundation’s Premier League Kicks Local Legend as the community programme marks its 15-year anniversary.

The Premier League is celebrating 15 years of its flagship community programme. Premier League Kicks has supported hundreds of thousands of young people to achieve their potential and improve their wellbeing through free weekly football sessions and educational workshops.

One person who has benefitted from their involvement is Liam Watson, of Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation, who has been named as a Premier League Kicks Local Legend as part of the programme’s 15-year anniversary.

Premier League Kicks began in the 2006/07 season in partnership with the Metropolitan Police, with the aim of involving and supporting young people in regular, positive, and fun activity, whilst helping to create stronger, safer, more inclusive communities.

As part of the 15-year celebrations, clubs have nominated a Premier League Kicks ‘Local Legend’ – somebody who has taken part in, volunteered, or worked on the programme and has inspired others through their dedication, work ethic and own personal development. Each nominee will receive a bespoke ‘Local Legend’ football card, which has been created with support from Premier League partner Panini.

Liam was chosen as MFC Foundation’s Premier League Kicks Local Legend for the difference he has made to a programme that positively affects so many communities. Just this week he was at the forefront of an anti knife crime football tournament at the Herlingshaw that included the Foundations of Newcastle and Sunderland.

He’s been involved with MFCF Premier League Kicks activities for 10 years and said: “This is an honour and I feel really privileged. I’m proud of our expansion over the years, we’re up to 18 different locations now – and not just with football.

“As a Foundation we’re about giving people a chance. We want to inspire confidence and hope and encourage the participants to become good people.”

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand said: “Legend is a word you hear a lot in football, but legends aren’t just created in stadiums. The coaches, mentors, volunteers and participants who are fulfilling their potential thanks to these weekly sessions all deserve to be called legends.

“For 15 years Premier League Kicks has been using the universal language of football to bring communities together and inspire a new generation of young people, providing positive role models who can give them belief and can help to steer them on the right path in life.”

As well as providing young people with access to free football and sports activities, Premier League Kicks offers mentoring, life skills advice and access to opportunities like volunteering to help aid their development.

To date, the Premier League has invested almost £66m into Kicks and in the year ahead an estimated 80,000 young people will take part in the programme.

Since it began, more than 440,000 young people have participated in Premier League Kicks football and multi-sport sessions held at community venues across England and Wales. The programme started with four pilot clubs and is now run across 936 venues by 90 Premier League, English Football League and National League sides – all funded by the Premier League.

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: “We are proud of the incredible impact Kicks has had on communities up and down the country over the past 15 years. As we mark the anniversary, this is an opportunity to celebrate the local legends who have helped make Premier League Kicks what it is.

“The success of the programme would not have been possible without the hard work and passion of club staff, coaches and volunteers working alongside young people at Kicks sessions, week in, week out.”

Clubs also run workshops on a variety of social issues, enabling young people to openly discuss topics that affect them, like equality, diversity and inclusion and combatting youth violence and knife crime. The programme also sees clubs work with 36 territorial police forces throughout the country – with regular sessions taking place in disadvantaged areas.

The Premier League funds Premier League Kicks and other community programmes through its £100m investment per season in community facilities and community and education programmes. This is the biggest voluntary contribution to communities and other good causes of any football league in the world.

Inclusivity is at the core of Kicks delivery with Premier League funding enabling clubs to run bespoke sessions to suit local need, which includes girls-only and disability sessions.

15 years of Premier League Kicks

  • 90 professional football clubs currently deliver Premier League Kicks
  • To date, the Premier League has invested almost £66 million into the programme
  • More than 440,000 young people have taken part in Premier League Kicks sessions since it launched
  • Over 900,000 hours of Premier League Kicks sessions have been delivered
  • 936 venues in England and Wales currently host Premier League Kicks sessions delivered by clubs – over half of which are in the top 30% most deprived neighbourhoods
  • Clubs work with 36 police forces across England and Wales as part of the programme
  • More than 21,000 programme volunteers have helped on Premier League Kicks. 93% of these volunteers are former participants
  • 20% of the Premier League Kicks workforce are former participants