HOME secretary Sajid Javid last week paid a welcome visit to an event put on by QPR in the Community Trust.
Mr. Javid checked in on a QPR ‘Premier League Kicks’ session – run by the Trust’s youth and communities team and funded by the Premier League. PL Kicks offers open access, free and inclusive football sessions to young people aged eight to 25.
Participants gain the well-known physical, psychological and social benefits from involvement and competition in sport. Sessions are in targeted neighbourhoods, across Brent, North Kensington, Hammersmith & Fulham and Westminster, and provide constructive and positive activities which reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.
Support is offered to participants in the form of mentoring and signposting to other programmes and interventions, while participants also get opportunities to represent QPR in a range of local and national competitions and tournaments.
Speaking at the PL Kicks session held on the Lisson Green Estate, Marylebone – and led by the Trust's Anthony Scarlett – Mr. Javid told www.qpr.co.uk: "It's about young people coming out, meeting others, making friends and of course they're learning about football – but they're learning about much more than that.
"It's about building skills, building more confidence and looking up to some of the role models that they have, and many of those role models exist in football.
"We all want to see kids having opportunities after school time and in the early evening. This is a great way to spend your time because you're not just doing something positive, you're learning new things, you're making friends, but you've also got someone to turn to if there are things you are worried about.
“The coaches are always there to give advice and turn you to the right direction if you need more professional advice."
QPR Community Trust’s Michael Nyarko added: “It’s always great to shine a spotlight on the good work of the Trust – so having the support of the Home Secretary, and the subsequent media attention on the back of that, is really important for us.
“Most importantly, it gives the young people involved the chance to show what they’re doing and how the programme is helping them.
“QPR Kicks can be lifechanging – because of the programme, the engagement has put individuals on a different path in life. Without the support of the coaches, they probably would have gone on a different journey.
“Kicks is the cornerstone of all the good work we do in our youth and communities department. The funding that it provides allows us to do so many different things – and the opportunities link into so much of what we do, such as our Prevent and Prosper and prison and traineeship programmes.
“This is authentic work based around young people in our local community.”
Sana Najmaddin began his coaching journey as a participant at a Kicks session in Paddington at the age of 13.
His attitude, behaviour, confidence and self-esteem have since come on leaps and bounds – so much so that, now aged 17, Sana is employed by the Trust as a sessional coach, earning qualifications at the same time.
“I started as a participant but, as time went on, I realised that I could help others as well,” he said. “QPR assisted me in getting my FA Level 1 qualification, and I am now coaching at sessions I used to participate in.
“Essentially, I am coaching mates that I used to participate with – but that has helped because they feel comfortable around me.
“Things have just got better. I also coach at other general Trust sessions. I have grown as an individual and Kicks has changed things for me.
“My mindset wasn’t exactly straight before but, since I’ve got my coaching badges and been involved with QPR’s College Academy programme, it’s given me an education and a pathway to help me as an individual.
“It’s nice to be able to help others now – and programmes like Kicks are very, very important. Some of the kids could realistically get involved with the wrong people, but it gives them a pathway.
“It helped me and it can help others.”