Manager Neal Ardley and York City first team players visit local group York Inspirational Kids (YIKS)

By Brad Saxton

York City manager Neal Ardley and a selection of York City first team players visited a local group ran by organisation, York Inspirational Kids (YIKS) on Thursday Evening.    

Based at the Clifton Children’s Centre in the heart of the City, they’re a group for parents/families of children with a disability and/or additional need, offering support, friendship, activities, training and outings for both children and their families who live in the York area. 

On Thursday, Ardley, alongside Paddy McLaughlin, Michael Duckworth, Alex Woodyard and Maziar Kouhyar visited the Post-16 group, one of the many groups the organisation run, and joined them in creating Christmas cards ahead of the festive season.

The group were also given the opportunity to speak with Ardley and the players, before they were able to later engage in activities such as air hockey and pool.

The Football Club also kindly donated presents to the young people, allowing them a chance to take home some club memorabilia on the night.  

Louise Firth, the Events and Training Coordinator at York Inspirational Kids, expressed her delight at how much it meant for the group to be able to meet the York City Manager and some of the first team players.  

“This group is for young people and it’s an opportunity for them to get together on a weekly basis and undertake activities that they wouldn’t be able to normally do in every day society. 

“We tailor things to help with their needs to help them in the best way possible, but it’s also a really good chance for them to build friendships and do things together. 

“Since starting this role in March, I’ve seen various people come and not say a word at first, but they then grow and let their confidence build. I see this group as a really good chance to help these individuals come out of their shell within a safe space. 

“I absolutely love the role that I do, I love being able to help and see them develop as individuals. It’s so nice to be able to know we can help play a part in helping them and their families in so many different ways.”

York City manager Neal Ardley explained the importance of how these kinds of community initiatives can help make a difference to young people, especially as we approach the festive period.  

“It’s fantastic that we’re able to help to contribute to community activities like this one,” said Ardley.  

“It’s great to be able to spend some time with them, everyone needs a little bit of love and attention especially around Christmas time to help make it as special for some of these people as possible. 

“Also from a club perspective, the new owners are really keen for York City Football Club to be out there in the community and that’s what a football club should be about, so it’s really nice that we’re able to help in any way possible to make as many people smile.” 

York-born first teamer Michael Duckworth also explained how much it meant to the players to be able to help play a part in engaging with the local community and how nice it was to help put a smile on the young people’s faces.  

“It’s really good for us as players to get out and give back to the community, I think everyone should be involved with these kinds of activities,” said Duckworth.  

“I’ve been here at the club now for a number of years and I think as a football club, that we do these events really well.  

“We live a really privileged life as a footballer, but it’s nice to be able to interact with many different people, and it’s so nice to see that we’re putting lots of smiles on their faces.” 

The trip to visit York Inspirational Kids is just one of the recent ways that the club have engaged with the organisation over recent times, having previously held a Careers Opportunities Event at the group a couple of weeks ago after working closely on this with York City Foundation. A recent stadium tour was also conducted a few weeks ago, allowing the group an opportunity to see the accessibility and behind-the-scenes at the LNER Community Stadium.  

If you’d like to find out more about York Inspirational Kids’ work as a charity and what they do, then please click here York Inspirational Kids.