Back to college for star defender Chris

COLLEGE DAY: AFC Bournemouth defender Chris Mepham, back centre, with Cherries’ Community Sports Trust staff and participants in the latest Premier League Kicks Session at Vitality Stadium, sponsored by Bournemouth & Poole College

Cherries star defender Chris Mepham joined in with young players at the latest Premier League Kicks session staged by the Premier League club.

Project ambassador Chris attended a session for 15 participants on the 3G pitches at Vitality Stadium.

Chris got involved by giving the teams a motivational talk, oversaw the five-a-side games and took part in a Q&A session before signing autographs and posing for photos

The event was supported by Bournemouth & Poole College, an official partner of AFC Bournemouth’s Community Sport Trust.

The College, which sponsors Premier League Kicks in the Poole region, became partners with the Cherries in January this year and will also continue its support into 2019/20 season.

The College, which has sites at Lansdowne in Bournemouth and North Road and Tower Park in Poole, is the largest provider of further education and apprenticeships in the area.

AFC Bournemouth’s self-funding, non-profit Community Sports Trust (CST) runs the Premier League-backed scheme locally with more than 1,000 young people participating last season.

CST head Steve Cuss said: “The project encourages young people to get involved in playing sports in the evenings and at weekends, which sees them benefit from a healthier lifestyle, improved well-being and most importantly offers them a safe environment to enjoy themselves and have fun with friends.

“AFC Bournemouth is very much a community club – we work with and for the community for the benefit of all concerned – hence why the long-term support of one of the area’s major educational establishments is indispensible.”

The latest Premier League Kicks session was part of an employability workshop that Bournemouth & Poole College delivered at the stadium followed by a behind-the-scenes stadium tour carried out by the CST coaches.

The workshop included a presentation on first impressions and how young people should portray themselves in front of potential employers, as well as advice on CV writing and interviews.

The next activities on the 3G pitches included the team building exercise ‘Gutterball’, in which participants worked as a team to move a ball from one end of the pitch to the other, just using pieces of guttering, whilst going around obstacles.

College Commercial Director Matt Butcher said: “A lot of team work and communication was involved in the day – which is exactly how we see our partnership with the Cherries.

“We are proud to support the Community Sports Trust which does such great work with so many young people right across the area.

“The players themselves are excellent role models – we are grateful that Chris gave up his time to take part in our event, which was a brilliant extra for our participants.

“We want to spread our message to young supporters of the Cherries that we are there to help as many young people as possible to go after the career of their dreams and that there are exciting opportunities available at the College.

Nationally, 69 football clubs are involved in the flagship Premier League Kicks scheme, engaging with more than 225,000 youngsters since 2006.

It aims to promote participation in sport in areas of high need, provide opportunities for young people to develop skills and confidence and support young people to progress into positive pathways.