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PL Kicks Tournament A Real Hit With Youngsters

10 January 2017

Preston North End made its debut in the Premier League Kicks tournament last month and left a lasting impression on the competition.

The team was made up of local youngsters from ages nine - 13-years-old who participate in North End’s kicks sessions held weekly in a variety of different settings.

North End’s representatives enjoyed a real professional environment on and off the pitch with participants donning Lilywhite colours at Manchester City’s training complex.

An array of teams took part from across the country, from as far south as Queens Park Rangers competing in the tournament.

North End were drawn in a group of three alongside hosts Manchester City and Leicester City and got off to the perfect start by seeing off Man City 1-0.

Defeats against Leicester and Man City followed before securing the runners up spot with a 0-0 draw to Leicester in the final group game.

Unfortunately, only the best performing runner up of the three groups qualified spelling the end to PNE’s run in the competition, but Community Inclusion Officer Jack Mullineux felt participants did North End proud in the club’s first involvement in the competition. 

“Finishing in second place against teams who have played with each other several times is an achievement the team can be proud of,” said Jack.

“A lot of these players have never played for a grassroots team so it gave them their first opportunity to play in a team environment.

“The kids were asking when the next tournament was as soon as it was finished so that shows you how popular it was and how much they enjoyed it. They would never have got the opportunity to play in such a competition without PNE’s Kicks programme.”

The team were treated to the real matchday experience with their kit hung up in North End’s dressing room where the players were surrounded by shirts bearing ‘Hugill’ ‘Johnson’ et al.

Once they were changed and ready to go, the contingent travelled to Manchester where not only did they take part in the tournament, they were also spoken to by an ex offender who told youngsters of his experiences and how he was led back on the straight and narrow.

Although it was the football that took centre stage, the whole day meant more to participants than just kicking a ball about as Jack explained.

“Once we were finished, we conducted a focus group and asked them questions about the day,” added Jack.

“We asked them what they would be doing if they wasn’t in the kicks tournament and the general consensus was that they’d either be on the streets up to no good, or sat at home playing on the Xbox so it’s evident the impact that it’s making.

“The whole experience was a dream come true for a lot of the players. A lot of them support Preston North End so being able to represent the club meant a lot to them and their parents who seemed delighted that their kids were involved.”

Preston North End’s PL Kicks sessions enable youngsters from deprived areas access to football sessions and in some cases, free tickets to see PNE in action.

Introduced to Preston in November last year, the initiative has a long history of using the power of football to help hard to reach youngsters in some of the most high need areas.

If you or your child is looking to take part in more football, take a look at the sessions we host below.

For more information, contact PNE Community and Education Trust on 01772 693309 or email community@pne.com.

Every Thursday
Venue: West View Leisure Centre
Time: 4pm – 6pm
Age: Eight – 14-years-old
Price: £1.50

Every Friday
Venue: St Teresa’s astro turf, Callon
Time: 5pm – 7pm
Age: Eight – 14-years-old
Price: Free

Every Saturday
Venue: West View Leisure Centre 3G
Time: 6pm -7pm
Age: Eight – 14-years-old
Price:  £1.50

Venue: West View Leisure Centre 3G
Time: 7pm – 8pm
Age: 15+
Price:  £1.50