Arsenal Football Club’s outstanding commitment to the local community has been recognised once again, after the Club continued its long history of success in the National Kickz Awards by winning another prestigious award at the 2012 ceremony.
Davis Rizzolo took home the Inspirational Person award at the ceremony this month, which was held at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium and showcased the most inspiring young individuals who have made a difference to their community as part of the Kickz programme.
Kickz uses the power of football to build safer, stronger and more respectful communities through the development of young people’s potential. All of the programmes adopt a targeted approach that connect to the many social issues facing young people as they grow up in inner city areas, providing a variety of activities including football, other sports, music and arts, combined with volunteering, training and part-time employment opportunities.
The programmes also offer advice and guidance on a number of issues such as sexual health, drug and alcohol misuse and the dangers of involvement in gangs and knife crime.
Arsenal's first Kickz project began at Elthorne Park, Islington in 2006 and Arsenal in the Community staff now deliver a total of six projects, three nights a week and all-year round across the London boroughs of Islington, Camden, Hackney and Westminster; delivered in partnership with the Metropolitan Police and local authorities.
Davis has been one of the Arsenal Kickz programme’s biggest success stories since joining the programme in January 2010. Despite a troubled past, he quickly showed a determination to turn his life around by enrolling on an employability apprenticeship and achieving a number of qualifications. He now works on Kickz sessions at Rosemary Gardens in Islington and Petchey Academy in Hackney, using his own personal experiences to positively influence other young men to follow a better path in life.
The awards, organised by the Football Foundation, Metropolitan Police and Premier League, also recognised the strong national and local partnerships that lie behind Kickz.
Former Gunners captain and Manchester City ambassador Patrick Vieira said: "Schemes like this are fantastic because as a football club we have a responsibility to try to help the kids around the local community to achieve their dreams. I am sure some of them will want to play for their football clubs, some of them will have dreams and may not have the tools to achieve them. Every kid all around the world is playing football and as the number one sport in the world we have a duty to give back to society."
Richard Scudamore, Premier League Chief Executive added: “Kickz has made remarkable progress with an impact that is unrivalled. The Kickz Awards are all about the young people, volunteers, partners and staff involved with the programme and their achievements and positive commitment - it was an incredibly difficult job to choose winners in what was our best ever year for entries.
“I would like to personally thank all 43 professional football clubs and the national network of over 650 local partners for their ongoing support so far with Kickz and look forward to it progressing through 2012 and beyond with the continued support from the Metropolitan Police and the Premier League.”
Reflecting on the awards and Davis’ achievement, Ivan Gazidis, Arsenal Football Club CEO, said: “Community is at the very heart of Arsenal Football Club and we are immensely proud of the work undertaken by our dedicated Community department and the meaningful difference that they make to people’s lives in many different ways.
"To be recognised once again at these awards is testament to the outstanding work that they do to address the many social issues facing young people as they grow up in London’s inner city areas. I’d like to extend our congratulations to Davis and indeed the whole Arsenal in the Community team for this wonderful achievement.”
Full list of Kickz Awards 2012 winners:
Innovation Award: Jessica Purchase and Laura Baker, Wolves Community Trust
Inspiring Person (Aged 17+): Davis Rizzolo, Arsenal in the Community
Outstanding Police Contribution (London): Graham Willerton, Watford FC Community Sports Education Trust
Outstanding Police Contribution (Non-London): Jen Richards, Wolves Community Trust
Inspiring Young Person of the Year (Aged 12-16 Male): Jahmmal Grant, Wolves Community Trust
Inspiring Young Person of the Year (Aged 12-16 Female): Leah Bale, Reading FC Community Trust
Outstanding Partner Support: Sir Steve Bullock, Millwall Community Scheme
Football Achievement Award sponsored by Nike: Tanyah Palisa ‘Pele’ Chipendo, Albion in the Community
Outstanding Volunteer of the Year: Robin Clarke, Queens Park Rangers Community Trust
Alternative/Non Football Programme of the Year: Viva Kickz, Everton Foundation & Liverpool FC Foundation
Outstanding Kickz Club of the Year: Wolves Kickz, Wolves Community Trust