The initiative – organised in partnership with the Chelsea Football Club (FC) Foundation, the Chelsea FC Soccer School in Hong Kong, and the charity Right To Play – aims to tackle social exclusion and help 6,000 young people develop intellectually, physically and emotionally.
The 14 to 17-year-olds, who live in inner-city areas in Kowloon and the New Territories, will each have the opportunity to take part in six hours of football training every week over a 40 week period.
As well as learning about the basic rules of football, participants will develop some of the life skills necessary to secure employment in the future, such as teamwork, leadership, effective communication and conflict resolution.
A total of 52 coaches will also be trained to help ensure the sustainability of the programme following an initial three-year investment of HKD5.1m (£415,000).
These coaches, aged 17 to 30, will develop life and employability skills, including leadership and an understanding of health and safety issues.
“By empowering young people with appropriate skills we can help them achieve economic independence and security now and in the future,” said Patrick Kwan, Managing Director, Investment Banking, Asia Pacific, Barclays, “This programme will add to the many ways Barclays supports our communities in Hong Kong including, in the future, by encouraging our already active employee volunteers to mentor participants.”
Ian Woodroffe, International Development Manager, Chelsea FC Foundation, added: “We are delighted to be partnering with Barclays Spaces for Sports, Chelsea FC Soccer School (Hong Kong) and Right To Play. This unique programme brings together the independent interests and expertise of each organisation to support young people and help them to develop the skills they need to get on in life.”
Leslie Santos, Technical Director, Chelsea FC Soccer School (Hong Kong), said: “Communities throughout Hong Kong face the issue of marginalised and unemployed young people not having the skills they need to make the successful transition into long-term employment. We hope this programme will go some way to address this.”
Wei Wei, Country Director for China, Right To Play, concluded: “We will take the valuable lessons from our partnership with Barclays Spaces for Sports in Beijing as well as our tested ‘train the trainer’ model, to ensure this programme is set up to achieve long-term sustainability for these communities.”
Barclays Spaces for Sports uses sport to revitalise disadvantaged communities and tackle key social issues by helping young people develop a range of life skills. It is part of Barclays community investment programme.