West Ham youngsters get Premier Kicks
PUBLISHED: 18:00 19 April 2016
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Foundation’s mixed team wins cup for third year
West Ham United Foundation made it three tournament wins in as many years as its under-16 mixed side continued their impressive Premier League Kicks Cup form with a victory in Nottingham.
The young Hammers gathered at the Forest Recreation Ground to put their skills to the test in a competitive tournament against 52 other Premier and Football League clubs.
And after five hours of competition, the Irons beat Leicester City 2-0 in a well contested final to seal their third successive title.
A strong defensive showing saw the team go through the competition without conceding a goal, while racking up an impressive 24 goals en route to the trophy.
Francis John-Baptiste, who scored both goals in the final, was delighted to come away with the Kicks Cup and said: “I was really nervous in the final and all I wanted to do was help the team.
“It’s an amazing feeling to have won the competition, especially as this makes it three years in a row for West Ham!”
The side also included Claudio Boakye, Andrejus Bagdanavicius, Sam Mvemba, Yonis Farah, Evandro Goncalves Semedo, Laquan Liddell and Edon Hodaj, who are all current participants on West Ham United Foundation’s Kicks programme.
George Chukwuma, Foundation Community Sports Officer and team coach, expressed his delight at lifting the trophy again, but was clear there was more to it than winning for the youngsters.
He added: “Obviously we are over the moon to have won the mixed competition for a third year in a row, but just to be invited and have the opportunity to bring our Kicks participants up here for a full day of football is incredible.
“To have the chance to wear the West Ham United badge and represent the club gives the kids so much confidence and a real sense of belonging. They should be tremendously proud of themselves.”
The Foundation also entered an under-16 girls’ team, who fought hard within a tough group alongside Liverpool and Tottenham.
Nick Perchard, acting head of community development at the Premier League, said: “The Premier League Kicks Cup is the culmination of the programme over the year. It’s really our opportunity to thank the clubs and thank the young people that come regularly to the programme every week and give them the opportunity to meet other people from different parts of the country.”
The Premier League Kicks project uses the appeal of clubs to engage young people in disadvantaged areas of the country, giving them the chance to do something positive with their time.
The programme began in 2006 as a pilot project in London between the Premier League, Sport England and the Metropolitan Police with the aim of using football to bring communities together and to engage with young people.
This year’s event saw 53 Premier League and Football League clubs in Nottingham for the competition, with 77 under-16 teams – 52 mixed and 25 girls – playing for the chance to be crowned champions.
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