Can you kick it? Yes you can!
That’s because Wolves Foundation’s hugely important Kicks programme, missing over four months of face-to-face delivery due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is now back open for business with Kicks in the Park.
It’s not completely face to face – social distancing rules and other key regulations are very much in place – but the Foundation are delighted to be able to offer outdoor Footgolf and Football Tennis for young people to enjoy safely at East Park.
All sessions must be pre-booked to ensure all the necessary rules are followed, as the Foundation works to reopen more of its activities in the coming weeks in line with a relaxation of government and FA guidelines.
Wolves’ Premier League Kicks programme was launched in 2010, playing a significant role in the lives of young people across Wolverhampton.
It is part of the national initiative which aims to use football to bring communities together and engage with young people, with the Wolves’ project having relaunched thanks to a significant funding boost last year.
It was important for the Foundation’s inclusion and cohesion staff to stay in touch with the young participants over the last few months as they have done via online FIFA competitions and a zoom call with young Wolves striker Niall Ennis.
Now though, it is time to get back outside, with the first activity now off and running at East Park on Wednesday evenings.
“We have already done a trial session to make sure we are ready as there are a lot of logistics to think about to make sure both staff and participants involved with the activities can be safe,” says Foundation Senior Manager Lee Smith.
“We are starting off with Footgolf and Football tennis, with numbers limited, pre-booking essential and everyone allocated their own footballs.
“After each session all the equipment will be cleaned with anti-bacterial spray and all the social distancing measures are covered with a one way system for participants as they arrive and leave.
“It will be great to get back out there, our coaches are really keen to get back delivering sessions, and we all want to return, but it all needs to be safe and our offer needs to be right – we are not going to do anything that will put anyone at risk.”
The lockdown has however produced one or two positives including the development of ‘Stay Onside’ as part of the Kicks Targeted programme with one-to-one support offered to young people in environments in which they are comfortable, such as chatting whilst playing online FIFA.
The call with Ennis was also extremely successful, with the young striker able to recall days when he himself was a participant in the Foundation’s PL Kicks initiative at Aldersley on Friday nights.
“Niall was fantastic – he is still a Kicks kid at heart,” added Lee.
“He was able to chat about Kicks sessions that he used to go to, and pass on information that was relatable to our young people.
“He was really positive as well, which is great, as there is sometimes the tendency for young people to get a but frustrated if things go wrong.
“Niall first came to our Saturday Club when he was six years old, and then went on to attend Kicks, and it was great that he was able to share his experiences with those who have followed in his footsteps.”
Foundation staff were also helped at the Kicks session by participant, volunteer and member of the ball crew Spencer, who was delighted to be back outside, enjoying activities in a safe environment.
“To come back to the Foundation and start doing activities again has been very enjoyable,” he said.
“It’s helped me a lot, because I’ve wanted to play football for a long, long time now.
“I’ve been stuck in the house for many months, playing a lot of video games, which is unhealthy for me.
“I’d rather be outside playing football!”
Any PL Kicks participants interested in playing footgolf or football tennis should email Carl Ackasovs – firstname.lastname@example.org
CLICK HERE to view a video of how the activities will work at East Park.