GOODISON Park played host to another Everton first as the Club’s official charity launched a new programme, Karate Kicks. Lord Mayor Cllr Tony Concepcion was present at the Alex Young Suite as Hisham Saif, the lead coach at Everton in the Community’s Kicks sessions was honoured. Karate Kicks, which is affiliated to the Karate Union of Great Britain is funded by the Premier League, Liverpool City Council and Merseyside Police. The initiative works using sport, in this case Karate, towards creating stronger, more respectful communities through a blend of activities to reduce anti-social behaviour within identified hotspot areas. In honour of the work Hisham has delivered in the community Amina, a young girl from the local community, recited a poem to celebrate the 22 year-olds dedication, this was followed by a demonstration by children from the Al-Ghazali Karate Club. Hisham was presented with an award from Everton in the Community by title winning ex-Everton fullback Pat Van Den Hauwe. Having started karate at the age of the five, the third-dan blackbelt claimed the WSKA World Shotokan Karate-Do Championship in Poland this year, adding this accolade to five national titles, two senior European titles and another two senior world titles. But it is back in his native South Liverpool that Hisham hoped to make a real impact, having already held a few taster Karate Kicks sessions for the young attendees. With numbers already in double figures, the 22-year-old feels the ethos of Kicks and the disciplines of Karate can perfectly marry up. “Karate has helped me so much through my childhood,” he said. “As well as physically, karate has also helped me mentally. I did well in school, I got a degree in Sports Management and I carried on studying as well as pursuing martial arts. I believe that karate can impact the lives of people within our community and help reduce crime in a way that football – and in particular, Kicks – has done.” The Club’s official charity has delivered a Kicks programme involving football in the local community for six years and lead football sessions in areas which have high incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour to encourage children to develop their potential. In figures provided by Merseyside Police, the programme has contributed to a 65% reduction in anti-social behaviour and a 79% reduction in crime in some of the most challenging communities across the region. In 2013 the project expanded from seven sessions to 24 sessions per week across Merseyside. Paul Nagle, Social Inclusion Manager at Everton in the Community, said “Our Kicks football programme has been very successful and Everton are breaking new ground again as we are the first Premier League Club to now have a Karate Programme affiliated to our official charity. We look forward to working with Hisham and the Al-Ghazali Centre where the sessions will take place.” For more information about the weekly sessions call 0151 530 5253 or email Everton in the Community’s Social Inclusion manager Paul Nagle at email@example.com.