Football initiative throws lifeline for offending youngsters

PUBLISHED: 13:00 27 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:23 10 June 2010

SUNDAY, JULY 27 - A FOOTBALL initiative launched this summer will keep over 400 at-risk youngsters active and give them a new set of skills and qualifications.

A FOOTBALL initiative launched this summer will keep over 400 at-risk youngsters active and give them a new set of skills and qualifications.

The programme will be delivered through a referral by the police, Youth Offending Team and other agencies who work with young people involved in or at risk of offending or anti-social behaviour and to children who may not have the opportunity to access other football related opportunities.

Devon County Council gave its support to two major initiatives in partnership with Exeter City Football Club at a reception held on Monday night in honour of the club's promotion to the Football League.

Kick Around is a three-year programme offering 40 weeks of three-hour sessions of football, initially at locations in Exeter. This will be rolled out in years two and three to include other areas of Devon - targeting areas of deprivation.

At the reception, Leader Councillor Brian Greenslade announced the Council's backing for the programme and pledged £30,000 in match funding towards the club's bid to the Football Foundation.

This will result in over 400 young people aged between 11 and 18 accessing one of these courses, which are designed to broaden their football skills as well as offering coaching training and qualifications.

Councillor Greenslade said: "This programme is about giving young people the chance to take part in a professionally-run football course, which will not only give them a positive focus when they might otherwise be unengaged, but also aims to boost their confidence, self-esteem and life skills.

"The sessions provide these young people with a safe place to go and a range of activities during times when anti-social behaviour is typically most likely to occur; improves their health, provides positive role models and improves their social and sporting skills."

Evidence from research carried out in Plymouth, where a similar programme has already been run in some of its most deprived areas, shows an 82% reduction in youth crime and anti-social behaviour.

Councillor Greenslade also pledged £5,000 towards a multi-skills coaching programme, which will fund the training of coaches on a range of different sports that will be delivered to children and young people across Devon.

Frances Farley, Operations Director for Exeter City Football Club said: "We are very pleased that Devon County Council are keen to support us with this proposal which we believe will be of huge benefit to the children and their communities.

"By encouraging young people to attain approved coaching qualifications we will also be training the coaches of tomorrow who, in turn, will be able to support sporting activities in their own neighbourhoods."

The bid for funding for this programme is being discussed with the Football Foundation who has already given a favourable response.

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