To celebrate the return of the Chelsea Foundation Kicks programme, more than 120 participants descended on Stamford Bridge on Sunday to take part in a football tournament.
Established by the Premier League in 2006, the Kicks programme runs nationally and aims to use football among other activities to bring communities together and engage with young people.
The programme targets youngsters who had previously proven difficult to reach and guides them towards a range of healthy and constructive activities with the Foundation leading sessions across south London Boroughs.
Barclays funded part of the Kicks Holiday and Food programme at Christmas, and recently provided further support by handing their pitch slot to the Premier League to give Kicks participants the opportunity to play at the Bridge.
Aged between 15- and 17-years-old, participants from our sessions in Wandsworth, Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea were all invited to take part in the event.
All participants who took part received a medal, while mixed tournament winners Churchill Gardens Estate in Westminster and female tournament winners Westway from Kensington & Chelsea went home with a trophy.
Callum Salhotra, senior social inclusion officer, said: ‘In what has been a really challenging year for so many of our young people who have had to deal with multiple lockdowns and isolation, having the opportunity to play at Stamford Bridge should hopefully make up for some of the lost time!
‘These young people come from all different backgrounds and locations, but football brings them all together. I know they will have enjoyed the day and hopefully it encourages them to keep playing football in the future on the Kicks programme.’
Tony Rodriguez, social inclusion officer, added: ‘Having a pitch event is a massive positive of the programme. To be able to play on the same pitch as some of their heroes could really inspire both our male and female participants.’
The Foundation's Education team also held a pitch event last week with 10 London-based primary schools invited to take part in football activities at the Bridge.
Pupils had the opportunity to showcase their skills whilst receiving coaching before taking part in small sided games. The event concluded with all participants going home with a Yokohama goody bag along with medals and prizes.