Saturday 07 September 2013
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson visited Selhurst Park, the home of Crystal Palace, this week and was impressed by the plans the newly promoted club’s Foundation has for the local community and for South London.
Johnson was accompanied by Steve O’Connell, a trustee of Crystal Palace FC Foundation and a local Croydon councillor, to learn about the Foundation’s ambitious plans, set out in a three-year Community Strategy.
"The money invested by the Premier League and the Met Police is having an extremely positive impact for young people in the area"
As part of the strategy the Foundation intends to support the growth of grass-roots football, support childhood development and promote health and well-being.
Johnson met young people who have been part of the Premier League’s Kicks Programme that the Foundation has been running for the last seven years and through which England footballer Wilfried Zaha emerged.
“I am extremely impressed with the work that the Crystal Palace FC Foundation is doing with the Premier League and MOPAC Kicks programme," Johnson said. "The money being invested into the programme by the Premier League and the Met Police is having an extremely positive impact for young people in the area.”
Most of those Johnson talked to were volunteering or working for the Foundation as sessional coaches and youth workers. The mayor did not need any encouragement to get involved in a game of table tennis with members of the Foundation’s longstanding Extra Time club, which brings together older Croydon residents.
However, it was the engagement with the younger generation that the Foundation and Johnson used the visit to focus upon, leading on to wider discussions based on how this can make a difference to future life chances.
“Although Boris may not be quite as talented as Dwight Gayle [the Palace first-team forward], he did show surprising prowess at ball juggling,” David Groves, Chair of the Foundation Trustees, said. “The important thing for us, however, is that he took time out of his busy schedule to see first-hand the work we are doing to help make a difference. We are one club, one community.”