Julen Lopetegui visits Wolves Foundation

Wolves head coach Julen Lopetegui was keen to learn more about the club’s official charity and their work in Wolverhampton ahead of this weekend’s Foundation Focus Fixture at Molineux.

The Spaniard, along with first-team coach Edu Rubio, made his way down to All Saints Action Network in the heart of the city to meet staff and participants of Wolves Foundation’s Premier League Kicks programme.

Lopetegui also spoke to Foundation ambassador Mark Rhodes, as part of a community feature to air on Sunday morning’s Match of the Day repeat show on the BBC.

Luke Shearing, community and cohesion manager at Wolves Foundation, said: “We’d really like to thank Julen and Edu for coming to visit us on Monday night.

“They took a great interest in what we do within Premier League Kicks and other projects across the wider Foundation too.”

As well as football sessions, the 12 to 18 year-olds were also given the unique opportunity to try out a virtual reality workshop with VR Education provider Round Midnight.

Participants are immersed in a VR headset, offering players a range of virtual decisions which show them consequences of getting involved in knife and gang crime.

And the Wolves boss also tried out the tech with one of the groups!

Speaking of his visit to the Kicks session and this weekend's Foundation Focus Fixture as Wolves face Chelsea at Molineux, Lopetegui said: “This is another part of the positive intention that football has.

“Fortunately, our club works in a very good way to help a lot of people, especially children, because they need to have these facilities and this possibility to play football in a safe environment – away from all of the dangerous things that they could face in the community.

“I think this programme, as well as everything else the Foundation does is fantastic and this weekend we will do everything we can to highlight this and encourage everyone to give their support to the Foundation so they can continue their vital work.”

Luke added: “One of our key aims as the club’s official charity is to help create safer, stronger communities for everyone.

“Through Premier League Kicks we try to reach those vulnerable or socially isolated children who could be at risk of getting involved in crime.

“Largely that is through the power of football, providing them with a safe and fun environment to play, but also including educational workshops like the Virtual Decisions activity alongside that.

“Unfortunately, it’s no secret that youth violence in Wolverhampton has been getting worse. The number of under-18s involved in knife crime has more than doubled over the last five years.

“We’re doing our bit as a club and Foundation to tackle that, and hopefully showing the young people another path.”

Along with other Kicks participants Lopetegui also met 14-year-old Taye, who he presented with the ‘One of Our Own’ award as part of the Premier League supports campaign.

Taye regularly attends Premier League Kicks, is a member of the Foundation’s ‘Action Pack’ youth voice group and a part of the matchday ball crew, and received a commemorative frame and scarf from Lopetegui to mark the occasion.

You can catch Julen Lopetegui and the Wolves Foundation on Match of the Day this Sunday 9th April, from 8.25am on BBC One. You can also catch up on the iPlayer all week.