The Premier League season may be drawing to one of its most exciting ever finishes but the players are helping U16 football teams from across England and Wales prepare for the 2012/13 season.
Through the Players’ Kit Scheme the squads of all 20 Barclays Premier League clubs have provided U16 clubs, schools and youth organisations in England and Wales with free Nike football kit and equipment. Every Premier League squad donated £25,000 to the Scheme to create a £500,000 fund. The Scheme aims to particularly benefit those who come from areas in most need of assistance.
So far over 700 teams have been selected to receive the kits, which is a full set of strips and training equipment. The teams successfully applied for the Scheme at www.premierleague.com during the first two application periods this season. A third and final application phase is now open and the Premier League is urging local clubs to get involved so that they can have brand new kit for the next football season.
Everton defender Leighton Baines helped launch the latest application phase when he visited his old primary school in Kirkby, Merseyside to hand over the free football kit and training equipment in person.
Baines said: “It feels great to help the school out with the kit. I’ve got a cousin who works at the school who said they needed it. I’m not sure if they were still using the same kit from the time when I was here but by the sounds of it they might have been. The kids seem really happy. I’m sure it will go to good use over the coming years.”
One of the 700 teams to benefit from the Premier League Players’ Kit Scheme was the U14s team at Bolton Woods Junior Football Club in Bradford. Their General Manager Tony Miller said: “Bolton Woods Junior Football Club focuses on socially and economically deprived areas of the city. We aim to help young people overcome feelings of isolation and to break down territorialism in a relaxed and non-competitive atmosphere through sport. We had tried many times to secure funding for new kit so to get it free courtesy of Premier League Players’ Kit Scheme is just fantastic. We’d like to thank you for your support; it has given our club a sense of pride that the Premier League had taken a positive step in recognising us.”
The idea for the Players’ Kit Scheme originated at a meeting last summer between the Premier League, delegates from the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and captains from all Premier League clubs. Following the meeting, the players committed to adopt the scheme to deliver these valuable resources to help provide footballing opportunities across the country. One of the players at that meeting was Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, who has seen for himself the benefits of the initiative.
Carragher said: “Through the Premier League Players’ Kit scheme I donated a set of strips to my old primary school. I think it’s fantastic that all the players in the League are coming together for this. We all know that grassroots football is important because that’s where we started our journey.
“But we also know that it’s vitally important to have the right equipment. Not all young people can have access to that, especially those from deprived areas, so hopefully the Premier League Players’ Kit Scheme can help. Who knows, maybe this initiative might develop a few stars of the future.
How does the Premier League Players’ Kit Scheme work?
The Premier League Players’ Kit Scheme provides successful groups with a free Niketeam strip. Applications are welcome from any club, school or youth organisation.
There is a limited number of team strips available to award, therefore this is a competitive application process and bodies applying for the kit will only be eligible to receive one team strip, irrespective of the number of teams they operate.
Team strips will only be awarded to those who fulfil all of the criteria and priority will be given to those that come from areas that are deemed to be in most need of assistance.
To be eligible for funding, groups must also:
Be within the qualifying age group: Under 7 to Under 16
Have a minimum of ten registered members
Be affiliated to an English league
Have a Safeguarding Children policy
Hold appropriate Public Liability Insurance.
Applications can be made now via www.premierleague.com and kits will be available to successful applicants who meet the criteria from August onwards.
For more information please contact the Premier League Press Office on 020 7864 9190 or go to www.premierleague.com.
About the Barclays Premier League
The Barclays Premier League is the biggest continuous annual global sporting event in the world. Last season more than 13.4m fans attended matches with average stadium occupancy in excess of 92% for the third season in a row. Across nine months of the year 380 matches are viewed in 212 territories worldwide. Coverage of the matches is available in approximately 650m households with an estimated cumulative global audience of 3.5bn.
About Premier League Creating Chances
The Premier League’s Creating Chances programme uses the power of football to make a positive difference and empower Premier League clubs to create opportunities at the heart of their communities. The Premier League has invested over £156m into Creating Chances initiatives over the last four years and the work has directly benefited 18.5 million people.