Mathew Wilkes' involvement in Villa's community projects has come full circle.
The 19-year-old chemical engineering student was one of 10 scholars selected earlier this year as part of the new AVFC Citizenship and Scholarship scheme.
This scheme aims to assist University of Birmingham students from financially challenged backgrounds through their university life, offering financial support as well as volunteering opportunities within the club's community programmes to aid personal and career development.
From the age of 12, Mathew was a participant in our Kicks programme.
Now he has gone back to his roots to become a Kicks mentor through the Citizenship and Scholarship scheme.
After conversations with the club about the areas he would like to volunteer in, Mathew expressed his desire to give something back to the Kicks programme by helping and encouraging young people through a mentoring role.
Mathew now volunteers in Premier League Kicks sessions at his old secondary school, Holte School, on Tuesday evenings, as well as in the session he used to participate in at Laurel Road Community Pitches on Wednesday nights.
He takes an active role in assisting the coaches and delivering football sessions to young people.
Although the scholarship's nine-hour volunteering requirement has been exceeded, his keenness to volunteer in this manner has led him to carry on regardless.
Summing up his first year in the programme, he said: "Words can't describe how appreciative I am of this scheme and how it is going to help me in my university career because money is a bit tight and I don't want to financially burden my parents.
"I want to do it on my own. The chance that Villa have given me is phenomenal."
Mathew has been having a positive effect not only on the young people that he works with, but also on the staff that run the projects.
Michael Wynter, Villa's Social Inclusion Officer, said: "Mathew lives in one of the most deprived areas of the country and he has had to overcome many hurdles along his journey.
"During conversations with him it was clear to me that he has made some positive life choices.
"He was fully focused on his education as he identified this as a route to change and enhance the quality of his life.
"Mathew sees his role with Aston Villa as engaging and inspiring young people in his area to make positive choices in their lives."
A Senior Youth worker at the Lozells Recreation Group, where Mathew volunteers, added: "All the young people that Mathew has worked with look on him as a positive role model and the staff view him as a valued member of the team who is a positive peer leader."
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