For the youngsters in the West Ham United Foundation’s Inclusion Programme and PL Kicks, the chance to play with the new Premier League Nike Ordem V ball last week before the professional players was too good to turn down.
“A lot of the kids were excited when I spoke to them at the previous session about playing with the new ball,” said senior community sports officer George Chukwuma. “A lot came down today that I hadn’t asked!
“The Kicks campaign is like a relief for some of these youngsters who are really sporty and come here and engage with their friends.
“Whatever ethnicity, gender, age, religion – it doesn’t matter about a player’s background. If they’re willing to come down and enjoy themselves, we want to make sure we provide the best opportunity to do that.”
There have been 1,463 participants in West Ham Foundation’s PL Kicks project since September. The Inclusion Programme was launched last year, funded by the Premier League/BT Disability Fund, and has engaged more than 500 youngsters aged between seven and 19.
Travis Porter (pictured top) enjoyed being among the first to get his hands on the ball.
"I'm a goalkeeper so hopefully I get to use the new ball in the future too!" he said. "It flies well, and it's a nice colourful ball so it's fantastic to use it.
"I enjoy the Inclusion Programme. The guys at the foundation are a great bunch of guys and it’s also been good to have the players come down here this season.
"We had Winston Reid, who came down, and he was a nice guy to come along and help us.”