Kicks in the Park returns for the summer

Kicks in the Park is back for the summer, with free football-based sessions for young people run by Wolves Foundation across Wolverhampton during the school holidays.

Sessions will take place at Bantock Park, West Park, East Park and – for the first time – at Heath Town Park offering eight to 18-year-olds the opportunity to meet up and enjoy football together as part of the Premier League Kicks initiative.

Kicking off next week, the sessions for boys and girls, including disability participants, will take place as follows:

  • Mondays 3pm-5pm, alternating between East Park (July 25th, August 8th and 22nd) and Heath Town Park (August 1st and 15th)
  • Tuesdays 3pm-5pm, Bantock Park (July 26th, August 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th)
  • Thursdays 3pm-5pm, West Park (July 28th, August 11th, 18th, 25th and September 1st)

“Kicks in the Park is an extension of what we do throughout the city during the course of the week with our Kicks sessions,” explains inclusion and cohesion officer, Carl Ackasovs.

“It is an opportunity during the school holidays to engage young people in different parks in venues across the city.

“We will be leading sessions at West Park, East Park, Bantock Park and also, for the first time, Heath Town Park.

“Sessions will be open for eight to 18-year-olds with the different age groups on different pitches with all abilities catered for.

“It is all very much football-based and is a chance for friends who normally come to our Kicks sessions – and new people as well - to come together during the holidays and play.

“Kicks offers the opportunity for young people to come together in a safe environment to play football and enjoy time with their friends.”

PL Kicks is a long-running project funded by the Premier League which operates across communities where it has sometimes proved difficult to engage young people, engaging them via a variety of sports, coaching, music and educational and personal development sessions.

As a result of the regular weekly sessions, the authorities have reported significant reductions in anti-social behaviour in the areas in which it is delivered, including in Wolverhampton where the Foundation’s Kicks project has proved extremely successful.

“We have produced some specific case studies around Premier League Kicks to see the impact it has made on young people in high-need areas in the city,” adds Carl.

“We have seen many young people progress to become volunteers or even members of staff, including Corey [Clutterbuck], who now works for the Foundation.

“There is also a social action group linked to our Kicks project, which only last week worked with ambassador S-X on creating a graffiti wall at the Good Shepherd charity over the road from Molineux.

“Kicks can open so many doors for young people, not just with the activity but the guidance they can receive from coaches and staff and can have a really positive impact on their future.

“We engage with around 200 to 250 young people every week, and work with West Midlands Police and the Youth Offending team to identify areas where there has been a lot of anti-social behaviour.

“The data has shown that anti-social behaviour has reduced in areas where Kicks sessions take place, which shows the value of the project for the community in Wolverhampton.

“There are some great young people across the city and we really enjoy being able to offer them activities via the PL Kicks project.”

  • Participants aged between eight and 18 can turn up to the PL Kicks sessions mentioned above during the school holidays. Booking is not required but for more details email carlackasovs@wolves.co.uk

By Harry Bailey