“I feel safe as it’s a nice environment”
14-year-old Molly Muirhead struggled with increasing her confidence prior to attending Charlton Athletic Community Trust’s (CACT’s) Premier League Kicks sessions.
Molly also has asthma, meaning occasionally she can have breathing difficulties.
Molly was first introduced to the Premier League Kicks programme, run by CACT’s London Social Inclusion Coordinator Kim Dixson, in 2019. She has attended ever since.
Molly regularly attended Friday sessions at Garrard Academy in Erith, and following adapted sessions returning on 13 June at the CAFC Training Ground in New Eltham, one of two venues Kicks has resumed at so far.
When in-person deliveries were halted due to COVID-19, Molly remained engaged in four virtual sessions and took the opportunity to be reunited with Kim and her peers in person as soon as possible.
Molly’s mother has seen the benefits of sessions first-hand:
“Molly is learning to develop more confidence, meeting new friends and she has had a few amazing opportunities.
“All the staff we have met at CACT have been fantastic. Molly loves her sports and is always encouraged and kept motivated.”
Kim Dixson said:
“It's been brilliant to have Molly as a regular attendee at our Kicks sessions, both prior to the pandemic and now that we are offering adapted sessions.
“Molly also engaged with our virtual sessions we held during lockdown to make sure we could still keep in touch with participants and that they would be ready for us to welcome them back when it was safe to return.
"She's grown in confidence over the period of time and enjoys herself, and it’s been brilliant to see.”
Speaking about the programme, Molly said:
“I really enjoy the football sessions because I am meeting new friends, there’s a variety of ages, we learn a few new skills and everyone gets on well.
“The sessions have been helped with my fitness and keep my asthma under control, I feel safe as it’s a nice environment.”
In November 2019, Charlton Athletic Women goalkeeper Katie Startup attended the re-launch of the Kicks programme, encouraging young females to engage positively with sport.
A year later, in November 2020, Molly was named as CACT's Participant of the Year for the Kicks programme.