Monday 10 June 2013
West Ham United celebrated a home success over the weekend when one of their teams triumphed in the Kickz Cup 2013 finals at the Boleyn Ground.
The Under-18 female team went unbeaten in their seven matches at West Ham’s stadium to top the table ahead of last year’s champions Newcastle United. Wolverhampton Wanderers finished third while Millwall picked up the Fair-Play Award.
Victory tasted that much sweeter for West Ham after they came fifth in the regional qualifiers and captain Megan Burrows was delighted at the team’s performance on Friday night.
"It feels amazing to win," she told premierleague.com. "I wasn’t expecting to get anywhere near where we did after where we finished in the qualifiers, while Newcastle won last year and were really strong.
"They played brilliant football and their technical ability was a high standard"
"When they were announcing the winners at the end, people were telling us that Newcastle had drawn twice but I was still really nervous when they called the runners-up. I still can’t believe it.
"It was amazing to play at West Ham's ground. It was crazy. I was thinking that I am playing on the same pitch as players like Wayne Rooney and Fernando Torres. I was really quite nervous, I normally start a bit slower and it takes me a few games to get used to it but luckily we got off to a great start and we carried it on throughout the whole tournament."
And the 18-year-old, who has also begun coaching with the help of West Ham Kickz, says her side's achievement will have a big effect on her as well as the project.
"It shows how important Kickz is, not just for me but as a project," she said. "It's really rewarding. It will help my confidence and it will encourage me to carry on.
"I won’t be able to play in this tournament next year because of my age but I will still come down and be part of the team. It will also be really good for girls' football in general. Hopefully it will encourage girls not only from West Ham Kickz but other Kickz projects as well and hopefully it will help improve participation in girls' football."
West Ham won six matches and drew one and for coach George Chukwuma, his side's victory is reward for all the hard work that takes place all year round.
"I am so happy, I am proud of them," said Chukwuma, the club's Community Sports Trust Kickz co-ordinator. "They played brilliant football and their technical ability was a high standard. They all worked together as a team.
"It's for everything. It’s for the whole team, the girls, the coaching staff and the volunteers. It’s going to be a big confidence boost for them, not just on the pitch but off it as well.
"I hope they take this forward in whatever they do in life, whether it’s college, university or applying for jobs. Hopefully this kind of thing can help them. It shows that hard work pays off. It’s going to have a massive impact on our programme. We are national winners and for us to be called that is fantastic. I am so happy for everyone."
The Kickz Cup is a highlight of the Premier League's Creating Chances calendar and is a celebration of the work of the award-winning Kickz programme which began in 2006 and has helped thousands of young people up and down the country turn their lives around.
The scheme, which is run in partnership with the police, is delivered by 45 Premier League and Football League clubs who run over 110 projects.
The eight regional qualifiers for this year's Kickz Cup featured over 900 young people and 118 teams who were whittled down to 32 for this weekend's finals. There were a total of four categories with eight teams in each section playing eachother in a round-robin format for the right to be called national champions.
The male tournament took place on Saturday at the Boleyn Ground with Watford, who won the Under-16 event last year, claiming victory in the Under-18s.
Birmingham City claimed the Under-16 trophy while Newcastle United won the Under-14s.
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