Behind Every Kick – The Half-Time Score Line

Arsenal Football Club legend, Denis Bergkamp once said ‘behind every kick of the ball there has to be a thought’.

Since July 2016 as part of Lane4’s CSR, we have been striving to ensure that a group of Under 16 footballers from Hackney apply this thought to their own development, both on and off the pitch. The project strives to provide a top-quality programme that is built around personal development and life skills training. By using competitive football as a vehicle for delivery, we look to integrate key lessons, with a combination of interactive and reflective learning.

Given our experience of enabling both individuals and teams to reach their potential and build a competitive advantage, we have designed and are delivering an ‘off the pitch’ syllabus that delivers on 3 key objectives:

  • Inspire and increase the confidence of every player.
  • Encourage players to take lessons learnt from the project into further education, apprenticeships, employment and social responsibility.
  • Support players’ development both on and off the pitch.

So far, the project has included the exploration of concepts around a team charter, personal resilience, identity, personal values, planning and time management; all of which link to what it takes to be successful. We are also measuring the impact of the programme on those involved, evaluating their academic attendance, attainment and behaviour, as well their levels of self-belief and aspirations for the future.

The Under 16 squad play competitive football under the banner of Sporting Hackney Football Club, and are trained by Badu Sports at City Academy Hackney. Our off-the-pitch sessions are delivered every 4-to-6 weeks, prior to training sessions. From March onwards, each player will be matched with a personal mentor who will have been recruited and trained by Volunteering Matters. Both mentors and players will have a clear understanding of the intentions behind their relationship. This will involve embedding the players’ learning from the project and identifying opportunities to meet our objectives within further education, apprenticeships, employment and community contribution.

There will be a celebration event to mark the end of the pilot, where we hope to share some of the many success stories that have started to unfold. One example, following the final whistle in a recent game, the referee took the time to come and share his admiration for the team’s behaviour and the way that they carried themselves. This feedback was reinforced when a coach encouraged his younger team to come and watch the boys. He saw them as fantastic role models and outlined the behaviour that he expects from his players.

Behind Every Kick and Lane4 provide regular updates on the pilot and would be delighted to hear from individuals and organisations who wish to receive further information or would like to become involved. We will be using the pilot to learn how we can achieve sustainability and scalability around our objectives, and would love to be able to take the project forward into other locations; allowing us to deliver the same objectives for both girls and disabled football teams.