Getting busy with Izzy

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Birmingham City striker Izzy Christiansen was in Chesterfield last weekend to support the StreetGames Football Pools Fives festival on its visit to the Midlands.

The programme, which was launched earlier in the year, aims to take football to young people in some of the UK’s most disadvantaged communities.

The programme provides opportunities for underprivileged young people to play 5-a-side football and take up coaching and volunteering roles, as well as being introduced to new sports and activities. This latest StreetGames Football Pools Fives regional festival attracted teams from across the Midlands to the tournament which was held at Tupton Hall School in Chesterfield. The teams originate from a variety of clubs and organisations from the region, including Derby, Nottingham, Birmingham and Leicester.

Christiansen a current Birmingham City striker was keen to support the programme and pleased that it had visited the Midlands. Christiansen shared her experiences and knowledge of the game with the teams taking part and joined in with some of the coaching sessions which took part on the day.

Speaking at the event in Chesterfield, Christiansen said: “I was delighted to come along today in support of the StreetGames Football Pools Fives. The programme offers a fantastic opportunity for young people and it is great that it opens doors for young women to get involved in football too.

“Football is a great sport, I was introduced to it by my brother and I have never looked back. I have gained so much from the sport and I love to play and I hope that the people here today have enjoyed every minute of it. It isn’t only about playing the game, but there is also the coaching and volunteering side to the programme that will allow some of these young people to gain great experience and qualifications.

“I’ve really enjoyed being part of the festival today and seeing so many young men and women getting active and enjoying sport. I wish those teams that made it through to the National Final the very best of luck this summer at St George’s Park.”

Daniel Nova from the winning team, the Brampton Brewery said: “The StreetGames Football Pools Fives tournament has been great, we have had a brilliant time. We have played some of the teams before in other competitions so it was good to see those people again. The competition has been good and the final went to penalties so it was really close. The final at St George’s Park will be brilliant and we are really looking forward it to it! ”

The Football Pools will be working with StreetGames to use the power of football to enhance the lives of young people in disadvantaged areas and have a positive impact on their local communities across the UK.

Building on the existing network of 270 StreetGames projects, StreetGames will create and train a network of football coaches and organisers. The programme will offer an opportunity for male and female players of mixed abilities to play 5-a-side without having to make the level of commitment needed to join the 11-a-side game. As well as creating local football festivals across the country through the year, the StreetGames Football Pools Fives programme will host regional festivals in 11 cities across the UK, with the winners progressing to a national final this summer.

The StreetGames Football Pools Fives programme has a series of aims beyond increasing participation in sport amongst the 16 and over group. The programme plans to target neighbourhoods that are the hardest to reach and the most under-serviced. By involving young people in sport, and providing a support structure to the people involved, the programme aims to give young people the chance to gain confidence, qualifications and establish a better position within a difficult job market. Participants will have opportunities to play football and other sports and to become involved in volunteering or coaching capacities. The programme also aims to improve relations between different ethnic groups within inner cities, sharing in the common bond of football, thereby educating and improving local communities.

Jane Ashworth OBE, Chief Executive of StreetGames, said: “We’re extremely pleased that Izzy has chosen to support the StreetGames Football Pools Fives festival in Chesterfield. As a player, Izzy is able to share her personal experiences and her passion for sport with young people. She knows first-hand the importance of making football more accessible to young people, especially to young women, and clearly shares our belief that sport can change lives. It is a testament to this programme that someone like Izzy wants to get involved and support us.”

Ian Penrose, CEO of Sportech PLC, owner of The Football Pools added: “We are delighted to bring this football festival to Chesterfield, as the excitement builds to the National Final. During this 90th Anniversary of the Football Pools, we are extremely proud of our continuing commitment to Sport in the UK and leaving a lasting legacy across the UK.”

The StreetGames Football Pools Fives regional tournaments will take place throughout the first half of this year, building to the national final this summer.

For more information on the campaign visit www.streetgames.org/footballpoolsfives and @StreetGames (on Twitter) or StreetGamesFootballPoolsFives (on Facebook).