During half time at tonight’s match participants from our Kickz projects will be presented on the pitch. One of the groups will be celebrating our recent success at the National Kickz Cup where we were runners-up in the Under-18 category.
The national finals, held at the Hive sports complex in Barnet, North London, had a lot of talent on show and it was a great day out. Clubs from as far afield as Portsmouth were present and it was a real once in a lifetime experience for many as they had the opportunity to represent their local football clubs in such a prestigious event whilst competing against other football community programmes. Having dispensed of Arsenal, Manchester United and Middlesbrough in the group stages and West Ham in the semi finals, the team lost out on penalties to eventual winners Crystal Palace.
There was a also a famous face in the crowd who was taken aback by the standard of play, former Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United player Teddy Sheringham. “Watching the football today, I was very impressed. There’s a lot of talent out there that might have been missed and you never know who is watching. Just keep trying, keep trying to learn, listen to the people that are coaching you and always give your best!” was his message.
Leyton Orient player Jamal Willer was given the player of the tournament award and was presented his trophy by Teddy.
Community development coach for Leyton Orient, John Mensah, said: “I was impressed by the behaviour, attitude and football on display by the lads. Although it was a long day which involved playing over 10 matches throughout the day in such sweltering heat, the boys got on with it and did the club, as well as themselves, proud.
“I must say how gutted the players and even the spectators were at the end scoreline as we played some entertaining football. We managed to gain fans along our journey due to the conduct shown over the days of action. However, at the end of the day football was the overall winner and we must embrace that. We have even had a few of the clubs approach us to arrange some cross overs in the future. Its been a huge testament to the hard work in general that weve put in all year in developing these young men into young leaders and positive individuals within their community.”
Kickz uses the power of football to build safer, stronger, more respectful communities through the development of young people’s potential. After launching six years ago with three London-based programmes, there are now 44 professional football clubs from the Premier League and Football League delivering over 100 projects in partnership with the Police and local authorities across the country, with projects contributing to drops in anti-social behaviour of up to 60%. Leyton Orient currently run projects in Hackney, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.