Date published: 29/08/2014
Aston Villa FC legend Darius Vassell was the main attraction for local youngsters today as he helped them celebrate the tenth anniversary of Barclays Spaces for Sports, a partnership established in 2004 by Barclays and the Football Foundation, which has created in 200 community sports sites across the UK.
The former Aston Villa, Manchester City and England forward, joined young people at the state-of-the-art Barclays Spaces for Sports facility at Aston Sports Pitches. Darius and the other VIPs in attendance heard 19 year-old Junior Stewart recall how he had used the Aston Sports Pitches. During his time at the facility, he became a volunteer coach with the Aston Villa Kickz programme, after Aston Villa FC spotted his coaching abilities. He explained that, previously he was involved with anti-social behaviour, and had feared for his general prospects.
Prior to the £600,000 investment in the site – £300,000 each from Barclays and the Football Foundation – the outdoor areas of Aston Sports Pitches were run down and in need of refurbishment. Now, though, the site is a community hub of sporting activity with three full-size grass pitches, an artificial grass pitch and a sports pavilion. One additional grant of £49,727 was awarded by Barclays to ensure the sites remain sustainable over the long term.
Sport has the power to inspire, build bridges across communities and deliver positive social change. In support of this, since 2004, Barclays has invested over £40m in community sport programmes and facilities to help individuals achieve their ambitions.
That investment means that more than 53,000 people use Spaces for Sports sites across the UK every week, for a range of different sporting activities. The programme is working to ensure the sites are sustainable community resources in the long-term.
Darius Vassell, said “It was a very proud moment for me to help celebrate ten years of Barclays Spaces for Sports in my hometown. You only have to listen to Junior’s amazing story to realise just how important sites like this are in providing opportunities for young people. Barclays and the Football Foundation deserve real credit for their investment over the last decade.”
Spaces for Sports uses the positive values of sport to help young people from disadvantaged communities develop the skills they need to reach their potential. It is part of Barclays’ commitment to 5 Million Young Futures – a goal to build the next generation of achievers by helping them develop enterprise, employability and financial skills.
David Wheldon, Managing Director, Brand, Reputation, Citizenship and Marketing at Barclays, said “From our longstanding investment in sport – both at the elite and grassroots level – we know it is an enormously effective way to engage young people and communities. Barclays Spaces for Sports is part of our broader goal to build 5 Million Young Futures and give the next generation the skills they need to achieve their ambitions and become financially independent. We know we can’t do this alone and we’re proud to work with expert partners, such as the Football Foundation, to help marginalised young people improve their chances in life.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive, The Football Foundation, said “Thanks to Barclays’ and the Football Foundation’s investment over the last decade, more than 53,000 people are now using Spaces for Sports sites across the UK every week. Undoubtedly the programme has created a lasting sports infrastructure legacy that can get people active and regenerate hundreds of deprived communities across the UK. In addition to the initial capital investment we and Barclays provided to build these sites, the Football Foundation is now working with Barclays to ensure the long-term sustainability of them.”
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