The Premier League Inspires (PL Inspires) Challenge returned to Bloomfield Road this week. Building on the successes of 2023, Blackpool FC Community Trust (BFCCT) welcomed cohorts of Year 9 pupils from our five partner High Schools to take part in the PL Inspires Challenge local heat.
Pupils from our partner schools: Armfield Academy, Montgomery Academy, Unity Academy, Aspire Academy and Highfield Leadership Academy took in the PL Inspires Challenge on Monday 5th February in the Matthews Suite at Bloomfield Road Stadium. This year’s challenge was all about raising awareness of mental health and coming up with a social action project to support their community, school, and Blackpool FC.
What is PL Inspires?
Premier League Inspires is a 15-week, positive mental health, and resilience programme. It is delivered once a week, to selected Year 9 pupils across Blackpool. The primary focus of PL Inspires is to help young people reach their potential by ensuring they’re inspired, engaged, and develop the coping strategies to support them through the challenges of life.
Schools arrived bright and early to set up their areas in a market stall-styled event. Having worked enthusiastically and energetically in their session at school, supported by BFCCT staff members, pupils presented their social action ideas to students from Blackpool FC Sports College and Blackpool FC Academy players. Visitors were asked to engage and give feedback on project ideas, scoring the pupils across three key areas: Presentation & Communication, Overall Project Design & Knowledge and Understanding.
Pupils presented a wide range of well-thought concepts and ideas to support mental health for their school, club and broader community. Learners took turns to present their ideas and answer questions from our staff and scholars who challenged and encouraged them throughout the process. It’s fair to say our guests were wowed by the creativity and concepts on show.
As pupils arrived to deliver their ideas, it was evident that some were worried, nervous, and anxious about being taken out of their classroom comfort zones. However, after their first initial engagement, pupils grew in confidence and spoke with passion, honesty, and intellect about their social action projects. School staff who came to support pupils were amazed at how their pupils developed the courage, bravery, and confidence to talk and present their ideas.
Mrs Kerby from Armfield Academy said,
“It was really good to see the children out of their comfort zones and their confidence grew as the day went on and they spoke to more and more people. I think it was a great experience for them and will help them in the future when it comes to speaking in public.”
Pupils also gave their feedback about the event:
One pupil quoted when asked if they thought events like this are useful for young people’s development,
“Definitely, I really enjoyed this. I feel like there are children out there who want to be heard and want their ideas to get out there.”
When asked what skills they have learned from the day one pupil said,
“It’s especially helped me with my talking skills and my confidence and I have also gained new friendships from taking part in the programme.”
Other pupils noted:
“I loved the event I learnt to talk to people”, “Everyone just wants to make Blackpool better” and “I like how we can come together and see our ideas and creativity.”
The Winning Idea
Once the votes had been counted, it was time to announce the winners. Having articulated their ideas with consistent enthusiasm and energy, pupils eagerly awaited the results. Ideas had ranged from hosting a pupil vs teacher charity match, a Blackpool FC legends game with all proceeds going to a mental health charity and our eventual winners, Armfield Academy who want to host a series of pre-matchday events where children and adults can take part in physical activity and games to raise money for a local mental health charity. They will now work closely with BFCCT staff to undertake their social action project.
The winners will now act on their idea, documenting this throughout to show how their journey unfolds. In April they will attend Emirates Stadium, the home of Arsenal FC, where they will present their findings to partners and peers from other football clubs who also take part in the PL Inspires programme.