A FOOTBALL coach is using the beautiful game to reach out to young people after the sport improved his own life.
Perry Avery, of Elm Tree Close, Northolt, stumbled across the Kickz project when he was 14 and never looked back.
From taking part as a teenager, the 21-year-old has moved on to become a qualified coach and runs his own sessions.
Coaches mentor youngsters, helping with everything from career guidance to emotional support. The police and other organisations also get involved, to try to break down barriers between them and young people.
"Me and my friend were mucking about with a football in Southall Park when we saw a coaching session going on and went to have a look," said Mr Avery. "We thought it looked good so we got involved.
"I took my qualifications in coaching through the project and now I'm the one helping young people.
"I really like it. I help keep them safe by giving them something to do instead of walking the streets.
"It's seeing the young people develop which I enjoy. You may see someone who's having a hard time and you give them the skills and help they need. The next thing you know they're doing really well.
"Young people are our future. You have to make sure they're ready to go to college or whatever they want to do.
"Being a role model is what I like the most. I remember how the coaches helped me when my mother passed away. I was able to talk to a coach one-to-one and was really supported."
Mr Avery hopes to eventually run his own coaching business, something he would have never considered if it was not for Kickz.
The national project is overseen by the Football Foundation, the UK's largest sports charity, working with football clubs in deprived areas.
Brentford FC Community Sports Trust run the scheme in Ealing and the surrounding area. Call 020 8326 7030 to find out more.