Wednesday 05 June 2013
West Ham United’s Boleyn Ground will be the venue for the fifth Kickz Cup this weekend when 32 male and female teams will compete in one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the Creating Chances calendar.
The event celebrates the work of one of the Premier League’s key Creating Chances projects as well as giving youngsters the opportunity to meet people their own age from other parts of the country.
The Kickz project began in 2006 and uses the power of football in some of the most deprived areas of the country to create safer and more respectful communities. The scheme, which is a partnership between the Premier League and the police, engages more than 68,000 young people.
One of the teams taking part at West Ham will be Crystal Palace, whose U18 male team will be defending the title they won last year. The triumph over Leyton Orient at the the Barnet Powerleague was seen by the Palace coaches as a significant moment for the town of Croydon, coming almost a year after the area was badly affected by the London riots of August 2011.
"Croydon has had a tough time over the last 12 months, with all the negative stories and the riots," said Crystal Palace Croydon Kickz Project Officer Trevor Meader said after the win. "But we have been trying to highlight that there are actually good things going on in Croydon and these boys have come out and proved that, not over the last 12 months but over the three or four years that we have been there. They have progressed so much.
"We have got lots of people from different communities meeting up and speaking with each other"
“The Kickz project has been going well for Palace. Hopefully there are good things to come in the future."
Last year’s tournament featured 17 male teams and five female teams who made it through from the regional qualifiers, in which all the Kickz clubs taking part. Meader said the event was the perfect way for the young people to form relationships with players from other projects.
"We have got lots of people from different communities meeting up and speaking with each other," he added. "I noticed a few people from the regionals, which made it an even better day, especially when we were having food and there were West Ham and Palace guys sitting down together and talking.
"It made it a bit more of a day, so when we were playing the games it was more friends playing friends rather than opponents.”
Palace, along with Under-16 winners Watford and Under-18 female champions Newcastle United, were rewarded for their achievements by being treated to a training-day experience at the Nike Academy at Loughborough University.
The day involved the winning teams being given a presentation about the Nike Academy and the partnership with the Premier League before going on a tour of the facilities and then taking part in two training sessions, which included various drills and matches.
"It has been a really great experience for the young people, they have loved every minute of it," said Watford coach Carlan Edgar. "It's actually inspired a few of the young people to want to go to university and do something similar and be around these sorts of facilities."