A football and lifestyle project in north Northumberland is celebrating a successful first year, having engaged 117 young people since last July.
Kicks, a partnership between Newcastle United Foundation and Four Housing, part of the Bernicia Group, kicked off last summer in Berwick upon Tweed and encourages social inclusion among 12 to 19 year olds; helping them to achieve personal goals through football.
The project has benefited from a substantial donation from Four Housing’s Community Development Fund, which was set up to support local projects within the Berwick Borough where the organisation has a large number of properties. Kicks is part of a national scheme that aims to engage young people in constructive activities, increase playing and coaching opportunities, and reduce crime and anti-social behaviour within communities. As well as football coaching, educational sessions focus on developmental activities such as career development, healthy eating, drug awareness and volunteering.
Over the course of the past 12 months Kicks has seen 14 participants complete the Sports Leaders ‘Go Lead’ award, three female participants have progressed onto the Foundation’s Girls Player Development Centre and the Berwick Kicks representative team were crowned champions at the Kicks Christmas tournament. The project aims to remove gender stereotypes around the sport and has seen 13 females from across the borough get involved since its launch, four of whom are currently awaiting the outcome of the squad selection process having taken part in trials for NUFC’s player development.
Other highlights include fifteen young people taking part in a sports leadership programme with two individuals going one step further and embarking on a coaching course having taken a keen interest in helping the NUFC coaches to run the sessions and officiate matches. During the summer holidays eight volunteers from Kicks have offered their support to help run the foundation’s Summer Soccer School.
Laura Wilson project coordinator for Youth & Community at the Newcastle United Foundation, said: “Kicks in Berwick has been a huge success in its first year, the session has provided structured football for young people on a Friday night, as well as opportunities for them to gain qualifications. Hugely popular, the participants travel from across Berwick, Northumberland and the Borders to attend with the chance of representing NUFC in playing and coaching opportunities”
As the project enters its second year, organisers are calling on young people from the more rural areas surrounding Berwick to take the opportunity to get involved.
Laura added: “Kicks is held at the Swan Centre in Berwick, however the programme is open to all young people in north Northumberland, so we would encourage young people from Belford, Wooler, Seahouses and other more rural, isolated towns and villages to take up the opportunity to get involved.”
Gillian Buchan, customer engagement officer at Four Housing, said: “The success of the Kicks project nationally has been phenomenal, so we were keen to provide funding to help launch the scheme north Northumberland.
“The Community Development Fund aims to improve the communities in which Four Housing operates and Kicks is proving to be a huge success. Participation from both males and females is high and there has also been a significant number of young people engage further by turning their hand to coaching. We look forward to working with the Foundation and partner agencies to build upon this success in year two.”
For further information about the Kicks project or to get involved, young people can turn up to the sessions at The Swan Centre, Northumberland Road, Berwick upon Tweed on a Friday evening from 6pm to 8pm or can email email@example.com