The challenges young people may face in life can be everchanging, especially in the face of a global pandemic. SWFCCP staff aim to support young people by being a consistent positive role model in their lives and providing that reassurance that we will be there for them for several years, guiding them into new opportunities.
“The Sheffield Wednesday Kicks team works with hundreds of young people on a weekly and monthly basis, and when we see a positive change in young people, or to support them through a pathway, it really does make our job all that more rewarding” Paul Hebda, Kicks Coordinator.
Many of the young people who participate in the Premier League Kicks programme have positive stories to tell, whether this is making new friendships, building personal and life skills or even being part of community projects. A pathway that is available for the participants, is the education BTEC Sports programme Sheffield Wednesday Community Programme offer, working in partnership with Hillsborough College. Last year, the Kicks team had several young people that have progressed onto the education programme, which has given the young people something to aim for and achieve.
Aiden Frost, Joshua Snape, Tishaun Brown and Joe Iggo, are all amongst a small group of young people that have moved onto our education programme, from attending the Kicks project, all coming from different backgrounds and communities.
Roll back 2 or 3 years, and none of the above mentioned young people knew each other, but from the support of the SWFCCP kicks team, and giving the young people something to attend on an evening, all crossed paths, and have become very good friends overtime.
Paul said “I have worked closely with all these young people, and all have faced their own challenges along the way, some more complex than others. With the continued support that our staff continue to offer, all these young people have been able to overcome these challenges, and now have set real goals, and given themselves something to aim for”
Joshua Snape, who has been attending Sheffield Wednesday sessions since he was 5, and Kicks since he was 8, now volunteering, has been on a very long journey with SWFCCP. Josh is now also working part time, which is allowing him to build his skills even more, and hopes that after college, he will be able to get a job with the Sheffield Wednesday Community Programme team.
Josh mentioned that growing up in within his community there has been a lot of violence and youth violence which has put people in danger and feeling intimidated in and around the community.
Dominic Proctor, SWFCCP Community Coach said “Since volunteering with SWFCCP, Josh has gained valuable skills, but most importantly he has grown and developed as a person. The confidence that he has developed whilst working with us has helped him come out of his shell and shaped him into a promising coach moving forward.”
In the Summer of 2019, the Kicks team did a Concord Kicks relaunch, which saw many new young people attending the session, including Joe Iggo. Unlike Josh, Joe Iggo has only been attending Kicks for around a year, but quickly built positive relationships up with other young people who attending the kicks sessions, and also built a very strong and trustworthy relationship with the Kicks staff. After a couple of weeks of attending the session, it became apparent that there were some issues with Joe and a gang of young people that were targeting him, with the possibility of dangerous weapons being involved also. The Kicks team took immediate action to make sure the session was as safe and secure as possible for the young people attending, and if any of the young people needed support attending too and from the session, this was something that could be addressed. With the continued support from the Kicks team, and the support from the South Yorkshire Police and Concord SIV, issues quickly started to diminish, and the session has been safe for all young people attending since. The support from the Kicks team has helped Joe overcome some of the challenges he was facing at the time and given him the confidence to continue attending the sessions and has also since moved onto our education programme.
“Tishaun stands out straight away on the Kicks sessions, due to his athleticism and footballing ability. From seeing Tishaun on sessions, and speaking to him, you wouldn’t think he has faced many, if any issues whatsoever, but Tishaun has had a very difficult home life, and his passion for football, and having somewhere to go afterschool and on an evening/weekend has helped him progress if life” – Paul Hebda SWFCCP Kicks Coordinator.
Tishaun has struggled to build positive relationships with his peers over his time through school etc. but with the support of the Kicks team and the partnership with Sheffield Futures, with Tishaun’s passion for football, this made Tishaun stand out as a role model to other young people, and has also allowed him to build up some fantastic friendships and positive relationships along the way. The Kicks team have also helped Tishaun to realise his potential and given him the confidence to progress in life.
Aiden started attending the Kicks Youth Club session in 2017. Being a massive Sheffield Wednesday fan, and attending a Sheffield Wednesday Kicks session at the stadium, Aiden quickly became a popular character with the staffing team, and amongst all the other young people attending. Aiden lives around an hour travel journey away from the Hillsborough Stadium, and his parents/guardians put a lot of trust and responsibility in Aiden at young age, by allowing him to travelling to and from the session on his own. Also, with him being an older brother, he has had to grow up a little but faster than other young people at his age, by taking ‘bigger brother’ responsibilities and looking out for his siblings. Due to these characteristics Aiden had built up, Aiden was quickly identified as a young volunteer on the Kicks session, helping with the registration and tuck shop. This led to Aiden increasing his responsibilities on the Kicks sessions and has since volunteered well over 500 hours of his own time over the past 2 years.
“Kicks has allowed Aiden’s confidence and communication skills to skyrocket through attending and volunteering on the sessions. Aiden has a real can-do attitude, and is always willing to go that extra mile, even as a volunteer on the Kicks programme – the programme has really helped set Aiden up for a very bright future.” – Paul Hebda.
Below: From left to right: Tishaun, Aiden & Joshua