Last weekend eight players from Oldham Athletic Community Trust's Kicks programme travelled down to London to represent Latics in the national Premier League Kicks Cup tournament.
The event was held on the iconic Hackney Marshes and brought together all 47 of the professional football clubs who currently deliver Kicks for the very first time. On the day 600 young people from all across the country took part in the event.
Premier League Kicks is based in disadvantaged areas supporting Sport England’s aim to take sport to where people are, this enables clubs to work with young people that may have previously been difficult to engage with. Football is the primary focus but the vibrant nature of the programme has enhanced its appeal to young people by offering a multi sports element with more than 35 other sports being delivered.
The team that travelled to London were chosen from the Community Trust's Saturday night Kicks sessions which are held at The Honeywell Centre, 7-9pm. The Kicks project around the whole of Oldham has grown popularity ever since its re-birth a year ago with the mix of free football, music and now the additional incentives on offer have made it one of the biggest projects in the town.
People may not realise it but Kicks is a hugely important project to the whole community of Oldham. It utilises community facilities and helps make sport accessible at times where perhaps there is not anything else to do.
Premier League Kicks Cup
The 47 clubs were split into eight groups, with Oldham facing Brighton & Hove Albion, Blackpool, West Ham United, Birmingham City and Coventry City. As well as the football, there were other activities on offer during the day. Various workshops were run to talk to the young people about the dangers of knife crime and the consequences of drug taking.
Dale Harris, OACT Community Coach summed up the event: "It was a privilege to take this group of lads out of Oldham for the day and to allow them to compete in a national competition against the others Kicks projects from across the country," said Harris.
"The message was simple – today is not about the winning it is about so much more. The most powerful and long lasting part of the day was the workshops. I genuinely believe each and every person who attended them took something positive and powerful away with them."
This Saturday, a team made up from the Community Trusts Thursday night football sessions, which are held at St Martins 3G pitch in Fitton Hill, will travel to Stoke City. The fixture will be the second fixture of the brand new Premier League North West League, Oldham kicked off the league by beating Liverpool 5-3 last month.
This Saturday is yet more evidence of the good community work currently being delivered by Oldham Athletic Community Trust; a Trust that looks to provide opportunities through sport.