On Tuesday 16th March, young people from Salford met with Manchester United star Owen Hargreaves and local band Kid British as music and football came together at the iconic landmark and youth venue Salford Lads Club.
The visit was to launch the newest of Manchester United Foundation's Kickz projects, which has been set up in Salford to combat crime and anti-social behaviour.
Young people were given the opportunity to pose outside the venue with the stars as photographer Stephen Wright joined the group to recreate the iconic Smiths album – ‘The Queen Is Dead'. They also showcased the work they have done at the Kickz project's film groups, IT workshops and alternative sessions that run throughout the week in Salford.
Owen Hargreaves was impressed with what he saw at the project: "Kickz is a fabulous initiative and you can appreciate coming to a project like this the massive impact that football has, and especially in an area like Salford where there is so much diversity. I know from own upbringing that there are lots of different pulls for young people growing up. I was fortunate in that I just wanted to play sports and didn't want any distractions in reaching my goals. That's why Kickz is so valuable: kids have a place to come and train, keep focussed and not get into trouble. The volunteers here make a difference and so do the kids who come along because they are choosing to put their life in a certain direction.”
The Manchester United Foundation has linked up with the Salford Lads Club to run elements of its Kickz project.
Lee Adams Kickz Coordinator on the project said: "Issues facing young people are the same now as they were back in the days of The Smiths and even back to the time of when Salford Lads Club was built. The issues haven't changed but perhaps the way we perceive young people has. I come into contact with hundreds of young people and every week I see something inspiring. Whether it is one of our young volunteers gaining a qualification, or just a smile or a nod from someone who doesn't have much to smile about...the more positive activity we can offer, the more young people will see there is an alternative.”
Kickz is run in partnership with the Football Foundation. It uses the appeal of professional football clubs to engage some of the harder to reach young people. Kickz aims to create safer, stronger and more respectful communities through the development of young people's potential.
Last year Kyle O'Connor became the first person to come through all the stages in the Kickz programme to gain permanent employment with Manchester United Foundation.
The visit was part of the Premier League's Places for Players initiative, which highlights the good work of the Premier League clubs.