Former Wolves captain Karl Henry has expressed his delight at more than £700,000 being committed towards the Wolverhampton Wanderers Foundation-led Premier League Kicks initiative to create safer and stronger communities for the young people of the city.
Henry, who was appointed a Foundation Ambassador earlier this year, as well as Wolves’ executive chairman Jeff Shi, sporting director Kevin Thelwell and fellow ambassador S-X, were among those who helped re-launch the initiative.
On Friday night, representatives from groups across the city, including Eleanor Smith MP, Mayor of Wolverhampton Claire Darke and West Midlands Police chief superintendent Andy Beard, gathered at the newly-renovated Foundation Arena in Aldersley to celebrate the Premier League pumping over £700,000 of funding over the next three years for the project to operate across Wolverhampton.
Run by the Foundation, Premier League Kicks gives young people access to free football sessions, sports sessions and workshops, providing them with opportunities, support and pathways to achieve their full potential. It sees the Foundation staff working closely with young people and authorities in the local area, including the police, to create stronger, safer and more inclusive communities.
Henry said the funding will only strengthen the ‘incredible’ work being carried out by the Foundation across Wolverhampton and the Black Country.
“I’m incredibly proud to be an ambassador for Wolverhampton Wanderers Foundation,” the former midfielder said. “To see first-hand the work that the Foundation is doing in the city is incredible. To get this funding from the Premier League is special and will enable the Foundation to continue the good work that they’ve been doing for a long time now.
“It is an incredible amount of money which is going to benefit the young people of Wolverhampton enormously, especially due to the cuts being made to youth services across the city. For the Foundation to be doing as much as they are doing is fantastic and hugely important for the community.”
Aimed at eight-to-18-year-olds, Kicks engages young people in positive activities through their passion for football, whilst also addressing topics covering everything from equality and inclusion to youth violence and knife crime.
Supporting young people in developing their skills to allow them to progress into positive pathways, Wolves Foundation have already engaged with more than 2,400 young people during the past three years of running Kicks.
Will Clowes, Head of Foundation, added: “The Premier League have put a huge amount of investment into local communities and we’ve worked really hard with them over recent times to make sure we can secure this investment.
“We’re delighted to be relaunching the Premier League Kicks project, and although we’ve been running it for 10 years now, the significant investment over the next three years will certainly help us improve.
“Our staff work tirelessly to make sure we are engaging with as many people as possible in many positive activities, offering the young people of Wolverhampton a safe, secure place to come to and an opportunity to participate in physical activity, while also being educated through workshops to hopefully improve their decision making within their communities and make sure they’re not engaging in anti-social behaviour or criminal activity, to pave a positive pathway for their future.”