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Interview:: Cricket star Kevin Pietersen talks about his KP24 Foundation

KP24 Foundation

Published in Sports Management Oct 2016 issue 127
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Kevin Pietersen, KP24 Foundation / matt crossick / press association
Kevin Pietersen, KP24 Foundation/ matt crossick / press association

What is the KP24 Foundation and why did you set it up?
It’s a charity set up to help underprivileged people across the world, through cricket. Last year we ran a project in Dubai, where young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in seven countries took part in a ten day residential cricket camp.

What is the UK 24/7 project about?
Seventy two underprivileged 16-20 year olds from around the UK came to Wellington College in Berkshire for ten days of elite coaching, access to the wonderful facilities and a T20 competition. This was run by highly qualified coaches and instructors. There were sessions on mental toughness, fitness, nutrition, how to coach and set up a kwik cricket tournament for younger children, fundraising and media training.

I was there for the last two days, giving the kids a bit of advice about their cricket and their life. I’d talk about having fun, preparing the best that they can to be successful, maybe a few technical tips.

What do you aim to achieve for the kids?
To help them develop as cricketers and as people. Many youngsters from underprivileged backgrounds face issues such as unemployment and crime.

By using cricket, I believe that myself and my Foundation can affect change and make a difference in some of the harshest areas of the UK.

Underprivileged young adults in the UK are given more support than those in other areas of the world, such as India or Sri Lanka. However, this certainly doesn’t mean that they have the opportunities we would like them to have.

I want to see kids happy and smiling. Kids who have had no opportunities, and certainly not opportunities like this. Long term, if they go on to represent their first class structures, or go on to play for their countries, that’s great. But for now, I just want to see them smile. And hopefully, to take the skills they learn back to their communities and use them there.

The kids were chosen by Chance to Shine from its street programme. Why did you choose to work with this charity?
They have similar goals and aim to bring cricket to young people in inner city areas, promote social cohesion and create opportunities in diverse communities affected by anti-social behaviour and youth crime. They’ve also got access to lots of kids in inner city areas. Coventry, Birmingham, Bristol, north, east and south London.

How can cricket help these young people?
By helping them develop skills that they can use when they return home. If we can give them the skills to say, coach other people, then that can distract them from getting into difficult situations, and away from potential obstacles. We’re not saying we can change the world. But what we do can give young people another focus, away from a negative environment.

If you’re in a challenging situation in a cricket match, is that conceptually similar to being in a challenging situation in life?
People deal with pressure differently and that is transferable into other environments – work, personal life. If you learn to deal with pressure in sport, then, whenever you’re faced with a challenging situation in the future, you can take a step back and not make a rash decision. The right decision, do what you need to do, whatever that may be, to the best of your ability.

So the youngsters become more resilient?
Resilience is hugely important because you will go through ups and downs in your life, not just in sport. And being able to cope with your ups and downs and still succeed is also an important life skill, particularly when you’re in the downward spiral.

Being resilient, strong and tough enough to say: ‘I’m going to get good again, because I’m going to go back to basics and I’m going to do what I need to do.’

How did you fund the project?
We raised money at a golf dinner and a gala earlier this year, thanks to the huge amount of generosity from people there. Some of the money we raised, we put aside to support Ocumel UK, a charity that supports people affected by ocular melanoma.

Why did you, personally, want to get involved with this sort of work?
You change throughout your tenure in the game. You go from being obsessed with what you do and how you do it, to, to when you get a bit more experienced, you start to think more about what you can do for others and how you can help others. Then you get to the stage where I am at the moment, where you go, ‘right, now’s the time for action, helping others and giving others opportunity’. This is what my KP24 Foundation is about. Former players, who have profile, are duty bound to do this sort of work.

Would you like to see more of this kind of work going on?
Cricket boards have a lot of funds, so it would be good to see them support initiatives like this. There’s a role for governments, definitely. Sport is a real passion for a lot of people around the world. Governments should look after organisations that promote sport and want to give young people opportunities through sport. I think, it could happen.

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