Kelly Davies

Ashoka Fellow
United Kingdom,
Fellow Since 2015


This profile was prepared when Kelly Davies was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2015.
The New Idea
A former Premier League football player herself, Kelly knew sports clubs have a unique position of trust and connection in their local communities. At the same time thousands of clubs fail due to a lack of proper management. Kelly founded Vi-Ability in 2010 to engage unemployed local youth in re-energizing run-down clubs and turning them into thriving and sustainable community hubs whilst equipping youth with valuable employability skills.

Where existing “sports for good” initiatives engage young people to play sports in order to gain social skills, Vi-Ability is proving sports can give young people business-, employability- and life-skills. Rather than inviting young people to play, Kelly actually puts young people in charge of managing their local sports clubs, enabling those who lack sufficient work experience and qualifications to gain transferable employability skills in an environment that is un-threatening and fun. By enabling young people to gain real work experience and accredited qualifications, Kelly is transforming sports clubs into pre-employment training opportunities and has thus identified a new bridge into employment, which virtually every community with a sports ground can put in place. Having started with football clubs in Wales, Kelly has now demonstrated her model in a range of different sports settings and expanded her model across the London area, with plans to reach across the UK and internationally.

By working with both clubs and young people, Kelly is encouraging sports clubs to take on a broader role in society and offer more services to communities. By empowering local youth to expand the activities clubs offer, they are reaching their untapped potential as valuable community hubs. By taking on and tackling broader societal issues such health, education and unemployment, Kelly is exposing the value of a resource literally every local community holds. Ultimately, Kelly is re-defining what sport stands for, aiming to get communities, sports associations and policy makers to recognize clubs as untapped public resources: to educate and train young people and to address the national education, employment and health agendas.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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