As part of the Premier League Inspires Challenge celebration this week, we look at how the programme, which is supported by the Professional Footballers Association and the Prince’s Trust, helps marginalised 11 to 25-year-olds fulfil their potential.
Morgan was one of millions of teenagers whose mental health was affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the 13-year-old from West Bromwich feeling cut off from her friends by the lockdown.
“She came back from the lockdown quite withdrawn, quite quiet when we first started working with her,” says Erin Hicken, a coach at the Albion Foundation who works at Morgan’s school, Wodensborough Ormiston Academy.
“She didn’t really get involved in group discussion.”
Thanks to the Albion Foundation, the charitable arm of West Bromwich Albion, and Premier League Inspires, Morgan has built the confidence to become a mental health ambassador at the school.
Premier League Inspires uses the power of football and the local club to inspire young people to develop the personal skills and positive attitudes to succeed in life.
Albion Foundation coaches go into local schools in the West Midlands to give these sessions or conduct them online to students who have been identified by their schools as needing extra help to get them engaged.
One part of the programme is the Premier League Inspires Challenge, where young people must develop and deliver a social action project in their community.
Morgan and her team decided to help the mental wellbeing of students at her school with a graffiti wall, built with inspirational messages. By looking to help others, Morgan has improved things for herself.
“Doing this project has helped me because I have been able to see other people have been through the same thing and there are better ways to deal with your thoughts,” Morgan says.
“It has helped me feel less stressed, because all the people that have talked about it make me feel I can talk about it.
“I feel like if someone was to come to me and tell me about their problems, I’d understand, and I’d understand how much courage had come for them to talk about it.”
Thanks to PL Inspires, Morgan has built the confidence and the inspiration to be a mental health ambassador at Wodensborough Ormiston Academy, helping others to open up about the struggles they are facing.
As a result, Morgan and her team will be a part of the Premier League Inspires Challenge celebration on Thursday, which recognises the social-action projects set up by the 31 clubs on the programme.
“I’m really proud of Morgan,” Erin says. “She’s a fantastic young person.
“All the students that we work with, we work with for a reason. And with Morgan I think it was more around confidence.
“It’s been really nice to see her grow and see her blossom.”
Part 1: How Man City help young people find their voice
Part 2: Fulham teaching Franklyn the value of teamwork
Part 3: How Amelia provided vital support during lockdown
Part 4: ‘PL Inspires has given me something to look forward to’
Part 6: Emily focused on the future thanks to PL Inspires