Arsenal and West Ham have become the first Premier League clubs to sign-up for an initiative, launched by David Dein, to offer coaching and refereeing courses to prison inmates.
David Dein is a regular on the motivational speaker circuit and that often sees him turn up at schools and prisons where he is keen to use football to help improve the lot of prisoners. Current stats show that almost 64% of adults go on to re-offend within 12 months of being released.
Known as The Twinning Project, the initiative already has the backing of the UK government and was launched at Wembley with former Arsenal man, Ian Wright, who spent two weeks in prison for a motoring offence, also in attendance along with Arsene Wenger.
“Football can be a powerful force for good, and the Twinning Project will use this to help people change their lives when they are released from prison,” Dein said.
Ian Wright & David Dein launch the Twinning Project at Wembley seeking to pair @premierleague & @EFL clubs with prisons to tackle re-offending rates of 63.8% (adults) 41.6% (juveniles) within a year of release. Clubs will offer coaching/refereeing qualifications to inmates. pic.twitter.com/Of4YK5CrVk
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) October 31, 2018
“There is already great work being done in prisons across the country aimed at reducing reoffending and this initiative will build on that using football.”
Wenger added, “I see that 30% of inmates have problems reading so could you combine sport with education? To give people a better chance to find a job when they leave prison.”
Richard Scudamore, Premier League chief executive, hailed Dein, the Twinning Project’s founder. “David Dein has taken a huge personal interest in this work and has visited more than 100 of the country’s prisons to talk about the Premier League and his own experiences in the game,” he said.
“I applaud him for his commitment and for bringing clubs and the Ministry of Justice together in this important area.”
West Ham vice-chairperson, Baroness Brady, said, “My grandmother taught me that you must never look down on people unless you are helping them up, and I believe this project really goes to the heart of that sentiment.”
The project aims to have 20 Premier League and EFL clubs signed up to the initiative by the end of the year.