Swansea City AFC Foundation's Premier League Kicks project welcomes young people seeking asylum to sessions
Swansea City AFC Foundation has joined with accommodation and support organisation FABRIC to provide access to football for young people seeking asylum within our community.
A group of seven boys aged 16-18 who have been forced to flee conflict, extremist groups, or been denied an education in their home country have found refuge in Swansea aided by FABRIC.
The local, socially conscious accommodation and support provider generally works with those leaving the care system, and aims to enable them to transition positively into adulthood while also offering opportunities to find work or a route back to education.
As well as their efforts within the local community, they have begun working with those who have fled horrific and sometimes life-threatening situations in their home country, and made dangerous journeys alone to find safety in south Wales.
People seeking asylum - and who are awaiting a decision on their case as to whether they will achieve settled status - are not allowed to work. If you cannot work, you cannot make money and it can make their personal situation not only challenging, but also very isolating.
Earlier this year, the Foundation worked with FABRIC to provide the seven teenagers with access to free football sessions via their Premier League Kicks initiative.
The Kicks programme runs free weekly football sessions in six venues across Swansea catering for young people of any ability aged between eight and 18.
It focuses on the health and social benefits of team sport for children, while for older Kicks participants there are avenues for growth outside football with educational workshops run by local councils, the Police Crime Commissioner and youth services.
They also have the chance to take part in social action projects, enjoy volunteer opportunities and follow pathways into coaching, all provided by the programme.
Katie Ley, a kids life coach at FABRIC, said: “For a while the FABRIC kids have been longing to play football, but for a person seeking asylum it's not as simple as just joining their local football team.
“Swansea City AFC Foundation has been great from the moment we got in contact. Within a few days, they gave the kids a helping hand by giving them some kit and welcoming them twice a week to their Kicks sessions. The coaches are brilliant and were very welcoming to the children.
“Since taking part their moods have been uplifted massively, with staff noticing a positive change in their behaviour. It's a joy watching them take part each week, as it is the one hour I see smiles on their faces throughout and all their worries disappear.
“The Foundation has provided the kids an opportunity to play the game they love and forget about all their worries whilst having fun with friends, and for that we are so grateful.”
Premier League Kicks coach, Richard Harris, added: "It’s been great to be able to support the children to come down to our sessions and just take part in football.
"Premier League Kicks is all about making sure that everyone gets the opportunity to play football and we're really pleased to have been able to provide them with the chance to take part in the sessions.
"We can only imagine what they have been through, but to be able to offer them some respite and an opportunity to come and have some fun is really important.”