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Benitez And Lascelles Pay Kicks A Visit

Newcastle United Manager Rafa Benitez and Captain Jamaal Lascelles paid a surprise visit to Newcastle United Foundation’s Westgate Kicks earlier this evening, surprising almost 200 young people taking part.

The youngsters had the chance to show off their skills as the visiting pair toured the site, taking in all the action across the seven outdoor pitches, before taking the time to meet some of the players.

Westgate is one of 12 venues across Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside and Northumberland where the Foundation delivers Premier League Kicks 48 weeks a year.

Over 2000 young people take part in the project, which helps young people achieve their goals through football, with Newcastle United Foundation each year. The aim is to engage young people in constructive activities, increase playing and coaching opportunities, break down barriers between the police and young people and reduce crime and anti-social behaviour in the target area.

Kicks is funded across the region by the Premier League via Sport England, Newcastle City Council, North Tyneside Council, Postcode Community Trust and Four Housing.

Rafa Benitez said: “It was fantastic to see so many young people here tonight enjoying playing football with passion. The fact that their love for the game gets them involved in this programme, which also supports them in achieving their ambitions in life, is really great.”

Jamaal Lascelles added: “The Foundation does so much great work in the community and I’m enjoying finding out more about their projects.  I’d heard how popular Kicks is and I wanted to come down and see for myself.  It was a fantastic feeling walking out towards the pitches and hearing the kids enjoying their matches.  Thanks to everyone for the great welcome!”

Steve Mack, Newcastle United Foundation Project Manager commented: “For many young people Kicks is the focus of their week, something they really look forward to.  For them to have Rafa and Jamaal come along tonight and see them play is a once in a lifetime experience. Their support is hugely appreciated.

“Kicks is a fantastic project that encourages young people of all ages and abilities to come together and enjoy football.  Quite often it’s the first stage of a young person becoming involved with the Foundation, from Kicks they may also decide to do NCS with us, volunteer or sign up for Employability support.  Kicks can just be about coming along to play football on a Friday night with friends, but for the majority of people it’s so much more that that – it’s a step towards making positive changes within their lives.”

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