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Waltham Forest youth football tournament

Young people playing football

How we helped to organise a football tournament for young people to raise awareness about issues such as racism and violence.

Published: 21/02/2022

Organised in partnership with Thru Life and Leyton Orient F.C., the tournament brought together six teams from Tottenham, Leyton, Leytonstone and Chingford who battled it out on the pitch. After some competitive football matches, Thru Life’s Ferry Lane team from Tottenham were crowned tournament winners.

The event also aimed to break down barriers and encourage positive discussions with community partners. The Met Police’s Territorial Support Group (TSG) held round table discussions with the young people on issues such as stop and search, and knife crime.

Patrick, age 13 from Chingford, a member of the Chingford F.C. youth team said: “I really enjoyed it because I got to play with other teams and learned how they play. Playing in this tournament is something that a lot of children have dreamed about, it’s a great opportunity. I feel that it's something that has allowed other communities to come and play together. I got to make friends with other team players. I’ve learnt that anything is possible and if you want to play football you can play; you just have to try your best and learn new things. I feel like we played good but we still have to learn new things, and my performance could also have been better, so will train myself more and with the team so that we can improve.”

Khieran, age 14 from Chingford, another member of the Chingford F.C. youth team said: “We have been planning this tournament for two years and the highlight I would say was playing with other people that we don't know. Some of us play football as a hobby, but some of them (the other teams) actually take football to another level; that was probably one of the hardest parts of the tournament.

“We loved it, it was fun, which makes us want to come back to Peabody and keep doing it so we can set up another one. It just helps us look at you guys (Peabody and Thru-Sport) who can help us so we can achieve big things like this. And it's not that you just want to get us off the roads, it’s clear that this helps you to work with us, as well as playing football.”

Working together

Our Youth and Communities team in Waltham Forest has been working with a group of young residents in Chingford Hall to create a community youth football team named Chingford F.C. The young people have worked throughout the pandemic, when restrictions allowed, attending weekly training sessions with Thru Life. Chingford F.C. also successfully applied for a Peabody microgrant to fund the purchasing of their football kit, which they designed.

Douglas Muhammad, our Youth Development Coordinator, said: “We are proud of all the young people who took part in this tournament. They have had to deal with the challenges of the pandemic and have still stayed committed to their training and their team. Chingford F.C. is just one of the activities we do in the borough to support young people. Whether it is the Waltham Forest Youth Club or Young Leaders, we want to continue to work with the talented young people and give them the space to talk about the issues that affect them most.

“As part of this project, we will also be offering young people one-to-one mentoring sessions with Thru Life where they will have the chance to talk about their aspirations and goals, helping them come up with plans to focus on in the future.”

Richard Allicock, Founder of Thru Life, said: “As an organisation, our aim is to support young people on local housing estates in various boroughs to make positive life choices, that will elevate them towards their future goals. Working in partnership with Peabody, Leyton Orient Trust and the Met Police was an important factor in bringing the young people’s ideas to reality”.

Hafizul Haque, Youth Engagement Officer at Leyton Orient Trust, said: “Leyton Orient Trust works with partners to help improve life chances and positively impact the lives of young people using the power of sports. Thanks to the Premier League Kicks programme, Leyton Orient Trust were able to support Peabody and Thru Life to put on a great event for our young people from Walthamstow, Leytonstone, Chingford and Ferry Lane. The tournament was organised by the youths, for the youths and they should be proud of this accomplishment. We thank the Met police’s Taskforce team for supporting the event and engaging with the young people to break down barriers and encourage positive dialogue.”

PC Matthews, Metropolitan Police Service, said: “We’re the Territorial Support Group (TSG). Our day-to-day job is that we patrol areas where there are problems with knife and gang crime. We also police public order events, protests and demonstrations. We went to the tournament to help put a friendly face to police officers that people don’t always get to see. They might now approach us in the future and might not have negative connotations of police. They’re talking to us about knife crime, their problems and issues. We are talking about why they might or might not approach police, and what barriers they might have to prevent them from talking to us. We’ve also been showing them our equipment, explaining what we do day-to-day.”

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