Wednesday, 15 April 2009


Thanet district Council press release

Sport 4NRG sessions at St. Peter's, which have attracted more than 100 young people, are helping to make a major difference to the behaviour of those who attend.

The football 3's sessions started in September 2008 to try and divert young people in the area away from the clubhouse, following reports of anti-social behaviour there. Offering young people the chance to play under portable floodlights, they were able to show off their skills in a safe and controlled environment.

Originally, the sessions were only planned to run for six weeks, but they proved to be so popular and had such a good impact, that they have been continued.

Boys as young as nine have attended with their older brothers, with the mix of ages helping the younger ones to get used to being in the company of older boys in an appropriate, structured leisure activity and helping their transition between primary and secondary school.

Since the start of the sessions, the local wardens now report that Wednesday nights, when the sessions are held, are now the quietest night of the week in St. Peter's for reports of anti-social behaviour.

Head of Sport 4NRG, James Gregory, said: "These sessions have had a huge positive impact on the behaviour of those who regularly attend. When we started there, there was constant squabbling and over the top play fighting, bullying, foul language and a disrespect for each other and the referee. Over time, this behaviour and language has vastly improved, due to the real mutual respect that has appeared between the NRG staff and the young people. This is what the NRG staff have been trained to achieve. It is so much more than football coaching and refereeing.

He added: "These young people often have strained relationships with other adults in their lives, like their teachers. The NRG staff take time to listen to the boys to make them feel valued, and not dismissed, just because they are young. This increases their feelings of self worth, which in turn, empowers the boys to make positive decisions in their lives. It has been a pleasure to see the positive changes in the boys behaviour. It has made all the late, wet cold evenings standing out in the middle of a muddy pitch worthwhile!"

The sessions take place every week on Wednesday nights from 6.30pm to 7.45pm at St. Peter's rec.

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