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22 February 2016

Teenagers empowered to pursue careers in sport at Young Leaders programme...

Young people from across the Midlands were given a helping hand in pursuing a career in grassroots sport at The FA’s National Football Centre last weekend thanks to a partnership between six professional clubs.

Over 20 volunteers, aged 16-19, from community schemes at Walsall, Aston Villa, West Brom, Burton, Coventry and Wolves attended the ‘Reach Out – Young Leaders Programme’ at St. George’s Park.

Some of the region’s top coaches and sports educators delivered workshops and practical sessions to assist the teenagers’ progression from volunteers into jobs in sport development and coaching.

Mentors included former Great Britain basketball player Clive Allen, FA coach educator Ryan Maye, ex-Football League referee Andy Hall, women’s football official Lisa Rashid and communications consultant John Simpson.

“Our first Young Leaders programme was a real success,” said Jamie Bunch, of JB Sports Consultancy, who project managed the event in Burton-upon-Trent.

“The young people had a great opportunity to learn from highly-respected professionals in the community-based sport sector and pick their brains for advice.

"I've no doubt the talents shown by many of the young people at the camp will help them go on to enjoy a successful career in grassroots sport and inspire the next generation."

The Young Leaders weekend was the culmination of the six clubs joining forces for the first time to develop ‘Reach Out’, a football-based programme which targets inactive young people within Midlands communities.

Each club’s community scheme – all registered Charitable Trusts – is working with its local County Sports Partnership to ‘Reach Out’ to at least 35 young people deemed hard to reach and currently not engaged in regular physical activity.

‘Reach Out’ was made possible by the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire County Sports Partnership being awarded a £35,500 grant from Sport England’s Innovation Fund.

The project aims to utilise the expertise, experience and brand of professional football clubs’ work in local communities to get more young people playing sport. James added:

“Having been involved in local football development for many years, it’s fantastic to have the clubs and their local Sports Partnerships working together to deliver a project that provides innovative approaches to engage young people in community-based sport.

“I have no doubt we can build a platform to sustain successful programmes in the respective communities and utilise the strength of the group through joined-up expertise and resources.”

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