Feeling socially isolated from the Pandemic, Alfie began joining in Premier League Kicks at a local youth service that supports young people from deprived backgrounds. Not only did he grow in confidence at the sessions, he formed a completely different path for himself following the support from the programme.
Ten year-old Alfie started attending Premier League Kicks in the summer of 2021 at Dorman’s Youth Arts Centre - a hub run by Crawley Community Youth Services aimed at supporting young people from deprived backgrounds. He joined because he had been ‘feeling isolated’ during the third wave of Covid lockdown.
Alfie was initially daunted by taking part in sports and would watch rather than play. He was shy when communicating with others, had low self-esteem and had anxieties he would ‘make himself look silly’.
Staff noticed and took steps to talk with, and encourage, Alfie to help him participate gradually in cricket, basketball and football sessions. He would play a few minutes fielding and collect equipment at the end of the sessions and went on to play bigger roles in the teams - finding himself a place as a goalkeeper in football.
Coaches noticed he was coming to sessions happier and smiling, his confidence and communication was improving and he often became captain because of these skills. He is now a regular at Premier League Kicks, volunteering at sessions and refereeing matches and tournaments and hopes to take part in the Premier League Kicks Volunteering Scheme.
Alfie’s mum, Annalea, said:
“Premier League Kicks has improved Alfie’s confidence - he has come out of his shell making a wide variety of new friends. Alfie used to be quite shy so this was really positive to see as a parent.
“He is doing well at school, his relationships with his classmates are improving and there has been less altercations. He has been recognised by his teachers for his contributions in class and has gained new awards thanks to the difference the 'Kicks' Programme has made to his life.”
Laura Carter, Head of Youth Services at CCYS commented:
“Alfie has gained a lot from the Kicks program, he has progressed into being a young volunteer at his youth club, thriving at all sessions. His social skills have improved vastly, and he now has a like-minded and strong friendship circle around him making him feel included within the Kicks Community.
Alfie’s understanding of the community around him has improved outside the classroom too - for example, he got a community award at school for his ability to appreciate cultural diversity!”
Alfie was keen to get involved in the case study, he said:
“Coming to Premier League Kicks has massively improved my social skills, my confidence has risen massively because not only have my skills improved in football, but I have noticed a huge difference in myself as a person. When I first started, I was often making the wrong choices, meaning I did not have many friends in my community. Since participating in the welcoming atmosphere Premier League Kicks provides, I am now a young leader taking responsibility in sessions and supporting and getting to know all my peers.”
My behaviour outside of Youth Sessions has continued and improved at home, and I am getting much better grades at school as I have something to aspire and look forward to.”