The five South Yorkshire Professional Football Clubs are working together in collaboration for the first time to provide a new initiative for young people called YOYO Sport.
Funded by the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit in partnership with the Office of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, South Yorkshire Police and the Premier League, YOYO Sport will offer sporting sessions across Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield every night of the week.
The football club’s community sports trust will offer young people from the age of 10-years to 19-years the opportunity to take part in football and sports sessions in their local communities. The sessions will offer young people a healthy activity to participate in on an evening and the opportunity to engage with trusted adults. The sessions are currently postponed due to Covid-19, but will start once government guidance allows and it is safe to do so.
In addition to the sports sessions, the community sports trusts will provide a number of workshops covering some of the complex issues that young people face. These workshops will be universal for the participants and cover topics such as child criminal exploitation, domestic abuse, alcohol and drugs misuse and on-line safety. All of these topics will be available to help the young people make positive choices when faced with decisions now or later in life.
YOYO stands for You’re Only Young Once and is in its second phase after a successful schools initiative produced over 200 podcasts and videos. The media content is available for the YOYO Sport participants to watch and listen to in the workshops and on the YouTube Channel. The content will also be streamed through the YOYO Sport social media platforms adding another element to the subliminal peer-to-peer advice and support.
Rachel Staniforth, Joint Head of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit said: “YOYO Sport is a primary prevention tactic that will offer a youth provision and diversionary activity, and complement this with the addition of workshops aimed at keeping young people safe and encouraging them to make positive choices.
“It is extremely important that young people understand the dangers of carrying a knife, how it could be used against them and that most young people do not carry a knife.
“YOYO Sport is a way of engaging with young people through sport and delivering these key messages in the workshops and through the engagement work of the coaches.
“We hope to see as many young people attending as possible.”
The South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings funded phase one of the YOYO campaign. He said: “We should not underestimate the significance of what has been achieved by the Premier League and the Violence Reduction Unit.
“This venture brings together a partnership of the community sports trusts of all five football clubs in South Yorkshire for the benefit of young people across the county, especially in the more deprived areas.
“These diversionary activities will provide an opportunity for many young people to channel their energies safely and in addition to learn and participate in sport.
“Not only can they gain new skills, but there is also an educational aspect that provides skills and knowledge to help them avoid being drawn into an involvement with criminality or anti-social behaviour.
“The sessions will be free to any young person that wants to attend and will be delivered by the community sports trusts who are experienced in engaging with young people to deliver activities alongside education.”
The Premier League are co-ordinating the initiative on behalf of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit.
Tim Godwin OBE QPM, Chair, Premier League Charitable Fund said: “My association with Premier League Kicks stretches back over 14 years to my time as a member of the Metropolitan Police Service when our partnership with PL Kicks had a significant impact in reducing tension in communities and helped change lives for the better.
“The Premier League has maintained and enhanced the PL Kicks programme which has a proven record in supporting and enabling changing lives for the better, and having a direct impact on the front line in communities.
“We’re delighted that the YOYO Sport initiative will be working with PL Kicks and the five South Yorkshire club community organisations in a partnership which brings them together for the first time.
“To be truly successful there needs to be strong local partnerships, including police forces up and down the country, enabling both programmes to support the creation of safer, stronger and more inclusive communities. This is more important now than ever, and we welcome the partnership with the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner and the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit working with the five club community organisations to support children and young people through the programme”.
The five football club community sports trusts involved are Reds In the Community, Club Doncaster Foundation, Rotherham United Community Sports Trust, Sheffield Wednesday Community Programme and Sheffield United Community Foundation.
Participants to the YOYO Sport sessions can expect to be involved in lots of fun, tournaments, player visits and the opportunity to win free tickets to go along and watch their local teams play in a league fixture.
Reds Head of Community, Wayne Bullimore said: “We are delighted to be involved in delivering this exciting YOYO Sport initiative. Reds in the Community, the charity arm of Barnsley Football Club, has been making a difference to people’s lives for over two decades. Working in collaboration, with key partners and our South Yorkshire neighbouring clubs provides a huge opportunity to pool expertise and resources to provide the very best provision for young people. Over the coming months, providing young people with sporting activities and structured pathways will be more important than ever.”
John Davis, Chief Operating Officer at Club Doncaster Foundation said: “We’re delighted to be working with key partners to deliver the YOYO Sport initiative across South Yorkshire. This partnership gives us the opportunity to work collaboratively, while providing more opportunities for young people across Doncaster to access positive activities.”
Trudi Race, Inclusion Manager at RUCST said: “This type of initiative is exactly what South Yorkshire needs. Young people today have a lot to contend with and YOYO Sport will provide a safe platform to engage and inspire young people to achieve their full potential and make positive choices.”
Chris Bailey, Head of Foundation at Sheffield United Community Foundation said: “We are delighted to be included in the YOYO Sport partnership. The strength of the partnership is testament to the work undertaken by Club Community Organisations over the years. I believe by working together, in conjunction with the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit and Police and Crime Commissioner, we can create further sustainable and impactful change across South Yorkshire for our young people using the iconic brands of our football clubs, which have been the cornerstone of our communities for decades.”
Ben Winter, SWFCCP Health and Inclusion Manager said: “Sheffield Wednesday FC Community Programme are proud to be working in partnership with the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner and the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit, Premier League Charitable Fund, and our other South Yorkshire community football counterparts.
“The YOYO Sport initiative will provide many young people with the opportunity to take part in open-access activity, alternative forms of education and realise pathways into future opportunities.”