Last weekend eight players from Oldham Athletic Community Trust's Kicks programme travelled to Stoke to represent the club in the second fixture of the Premier League North West Kicks League.
The Premier League Kicks project is based in disadvantaged areas and supports 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 faced Stoke were chosen from the Community Trusts Thursday night Kicks sessions which are held at St Martins Primary School, 7-9pm on the 3G pitch behind the main school building.
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.
On the day Stoke City ran out winners, but once again it was a fixture that wasn’t all about the end result, it was about the young people and the opportunity they have been given.
Matthew Ferris, OACT Community Coach, commented: "It was a proud moment seeing the young people from the session representing the town, the area and the football club in such a positive manner.
"We have been working with this group now for a number of months now and we are all delighted to be able to have given them a chance to travel to Stoke and play in such a top quality environment."
The idea behind the monthly fixtures is to allow different groups of young people the chance to play against other professional clubs Kicks projects and to represent their area.
Martin Vose, OACT Participation Manager added: "We are really lucky to have a number of successful Kicks sessions currently being delivered around the borough. The idea is not to create one team who plays every game but to have different groups experience the league.
"Already the staff have noticed a huge difference in the attitude of the young people at the sessions as everyone is so keen to represent Oldham in the league. It really has had a huge positive effect on our project."
Next up for the Oldham Athletic Kicks Project is Blackburn Rovers who will come to Oldham in November.