Early Years programme fuels keenness to continue football journey

Khadija walks forwards on the blue sports hall surface wearing her goalkeeper gloves.

Five-year-old Khadijah has attended The Albion Foundation’s Early Years sessions for around two years, and they’ve helped enormously with harnessing her initial interest in football.

The Early Years programme includes both Mini Baggies (18 months and two-years-old) and Junior Baggies sessions (three to four years-old), which aim to introduce children’s love of football.

Khadijah’s mother, Amber believes the different sessions have helped her daughter “grow in confidence” throughout her two years of participating in the programme - along with her involvement in local camps.

“We first found out about the sessions through the Sandwell changes programme,” Amber said. “Having sessions at a young age with qualified coaches appealed to me.

“The coaches always made Khadijah feel safe and confident. Having seem how well the weekly sessions helped Khadijah grow in confidence and social skills, I enrolled my son in the sessions.

“The sessions have aided the development of Khadijah’s social skills with other children of her age. She’s built up a lot of confidence within the sessions.

“She has gained a lot in terms of confidence in playing football and it has helped improve all aspects of her early development.”

Khadijah dribbles a ball forwards towards the camera.

Khadijah has learnt a variety of skills within the sessions, offering a different football-related skill during each half-term, integrating that with a social skill for each child to prosper at.

“I enjoy all of the games that we play,” Khadijah enthused. “I love when we get the footballs out and do lots of kicking.

“I like to play football with my brother Idrees and I enjoy scoring past coach Tom too. My favourite skills have been kicking the ball with my laces.

“I like the themes and I watch them lots of times at home. The themes make the session more silly and fun.”

Khadijah dribbles the ball forwards whilst being watched by an Albion Foundation coach.

The Albion Foundation’s Early Years lead Nathan Russon has overseen a large proportion of Khadijah’s development and is pleased that she’s keen to continue playing football.

“Khadijah is a real social spark in sessions and her technical skillset has gone from strength to strength,” Russon said. “She’s always the first to answer questions and never shy's away from demonstrating her skills in front of others.

“Khadijah’s next steps are to transition into our pre-academy setting and start to understand the game format. Hopefully we can see her involved within our girls game programmes.”

“After attending the Early Years sessions and regularly attending the camps, Khadijah now wants to attend the pre-academy sessions,” Amber added. “She attended her first session recently and loves the increase in challenge that she’s found.

“If her love for football continues to grow in the same way, we would love for her to begin attending the girls football development sessions.”

To find out more and to register your child for The Albion Foundation’s Early Years sessions – click HERE.

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