Two Aston Villa Foundation apprentices starred in a Premier League film recently.
Abderezak El Khalifi and Renee Gottshalk both work for the Foundation five days a week, delivering sessions across health and wellbeing, disability, education and football in the community.
And the pair told their stories as part of the relaunch of Premier League Kicks, recounting how Aston Villa’s Kicks project has positively impacted their lives.
Abderezak, who moved to England from Italy aged 14, didn’t speak a word of English when he turned up to his first session.
He said: “Working for the club means a lot to me, and I’m ten times more confident now than when I started on Kicks.
“The impact that Kicks has had on me is massive. It was the start of my English life.”
Renee was raised in Handsworth, discovering Kicks in her early teens.
A keen DJ, her potential was spotted by the Foundation’s coaches and she began volunteering as a coach.
And after progressing through the pre-apprenticeship programme, she joined the Foundation as an apprentice through The Royal Foundation’s Coach Core programme.
She said: “Through Kicks and then applying to do an apprenticeship, it gave me a feeling of hope that no matter where you’re from, there is always an opportunity there.
“If I didn’t have Kicks, the level of ambition I have would be capped. Having that hope has allowed me to go full pelt.”
Aston Villa has been delivering the Premier League Kicks project since 2006, offering sporting opportunities to young people across the city.
All of the Foundation’s Kicks sessions are free to attend for ages 8-19, and you can find out more by emailing email@example.com.