In the run up to Diversity Day on Saturday, we’ll be sharing the stories of different people whose lives have been impacted, in a variety of ways, by Burnley FC and Burnley FC in the Community.
Through the Premier League Kicks programme, Burnley FC and Burnley FC in the Community partner with local mosques and community development charities to bring free football provision to children and young people living in some of the most deprived areas in Burnley.
Burnley FC is #OneClub for all. This is Sajid’s story…
Sajid (18) has been attending Burnley FC in the Community’s Premier League Kicks sessions for over two years.
The sessions offer free football, dance and multisport sessions to children and young people aged 8-19 living in some of the most deprived areas in the community.
The club’s official charity started the roll out of the Premier League’s national programme four years ago, identifying areas in Burnley that were in need of positive youth provision.
Partnering with the Community Lighthouse Foundation – a registered community development charity linked to locally-based mosques – coaches started to deliver sessions in Daneshouse with Stoneyholme.
Sajid began to attend the sessions but from the start, chose to stick with his immediate friendship group, he was reluctant to engage with coaches, he opted to stay in goal and sometimes, he’d simply watch from the sidelines.
Ultimately, Sajid’s lack of confidence was limiting his experience and causing him to shy away from showcasing his true footballing potential.
This lack of self-assurance had troubled Sajid in the past, admitting himself he had experience of being negatively influenced by friendship groups.
However, with regular attendance to the Kicks sessions and a commitment to improving his game, Sajid began to take part more actively in the session. He would help Burnley FC in the Community coaches get the sessions set up and in time, take on the role of managing teams. Others, particularly younger attendees of Kicks began to look to Sajid for guidance and encouragement.
In recognition of his development into an impressive young man, both the local mosque and the Community Lighthouse Foundation requested that Sajid attend the Premier League Kicks Cup in April.
Held at the University of Manchester Wythenshawe Sports Ground, the annual national event pulled together 64 Kicks teams from across the country and this year, was hosted by Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham.
Standing true to the Claret’s ethos of hard work and respect, the team selected to represent Burnley FC at the event was chosen based on their dedication to the sessions and their attitude. Sajid, of course, made the cut.
However, Sajid was actually too old to play in the cup so instead, he was asked to be a Premier League volunteer at the event – an opportunity he took without hesitation.
This willingness to help, coupled with his fantastic attitude, helped Sajid contribute to his fellow team mates being awarded the Premier League Fair Play Award on the day – mirroring the Burnley FC first team players who had topped the FA’s Respect Table only a few months before.
Alongside his contributions at the Premier League Kicks Cup, Sajid has taken part in BFCitC’s ‘Fixture within a Fixture’ at Stoke City Football Club, where participants from Premier League Kicks, Disability Sport and Walking Football were invited to play their counterparts, before being taken on a stadium tour and given tickets to the Stoke City FC v Burnley FC Premier League game.
During the fixture, Sajid once again showcased his commendable sportsmanship and proved what a brilliant role model he is – something his coaches would not have thought possible when Sajid first joined the Kicks session in Burnley.
Now a regular Premier League Kicks volunteer, Sajid is currently undertaking his FA Level 1 coaching qualification with Burnley FC in the Community.
Sajid said: “When I first came down, I didn’t really want to get involved - I only came because a few of my mates did. Now Kicks has become one of the highlights of my week! The coaches are all great and they give me little jobs and tasks to do. I can’t wait to finish my Level 1 - hopefully they’ll let me deliver a full session as a coach!”
The Daneshouse with Stoneyholme Kicks session is delivered within a community that is around 90% Asian-heritage. The sessions successfully engage with over 50 young Muslim males every Friday evening. Players take part in sport before attending a social event at the mosque, post-session.
A key benefit of Burnley FC in the Community’s Kicks programme is the impact that session have, above and beyond the development of the game. Sajid’s retention on the project meant that he began to develop socially, he built strong relationships with coaches and other players and he found a place to belong amongst the group.
714 young people engaged with Burnley FC in the Community’s Kicks sessions over the course of the 2017/18 season. To find a full list of sessions that are delivered every day from Monday to Friday, please click here.