Indian Super League side Kerala Blasters surprised youngsters at an Emerging Hammers session ahead of the climax of the PL Next Generation Cup.
Kerala and fellow Indian side Bengaluru both have U21 teams in the country for the tournament – also featuring youth sides from Tottenham, West Ham, Crystal Palace, Leicester and Nottingham Forest – after securing qualification through last season’s inaugural Reliance Foundation Development League held in Goa.
The team mingled with aspiring footballers at the Emerging Hammers weekly session, based at Frenford Clubs in the London Borough of Redbridge, exchanging knowledge and experiences with players and coaches.
The squad were also given a talent identification masterclass by West Ham Academy Link Mentor Rashid Abba during the Premier League-led visit, before an on-pitch demonstration by U12-U14 lead phase coach Luke Smith.
West Ham’s Emerging Hammers model has become a blueprint for clubs across the country when it comes to talent identification and the development of players, coaches and scouts from diverse ethnic communities.
West Ham Academy Link Mentor Abba told Sky Sports News: “It was great to welcome potential Kerala Blasters first-team players to Emerging Hammers.
“It was fantastic to share some of our knowledge and learn from their experiences, and it was great for the youngsters who found their visit truly inspiring.”
West Ham Recruitment Manager Shane O’Gorman added: “We are immensely proud of Emerging Hammers, which identifies and nurtures untapped talent and potential reflective of the communities we serve. We are committed to growing its scope and impact.”
Hughes and Uddin open new complex
Bradford City manager Mark Hughes joined the first British-Bangladeshi to play professional football, Anwar Uddin MBE, at the opening of the £1.3m Midland Road Sports Complex, a stone’s throw away from Valley Parade.
The complex is in the beating heart of Bradford’s South Asian community in Manningham and features a new 4G outdoor pitch, new changing rooms, cafe space and a revamped indoor sports centre.
Centre manager Humayun Islam, who is also the founder of Fans for Diversity affiliated Bradford City supporters’ group Bangla Bantams, is convinced the complex will change lives.
He told Sky Sports News: “The new facility will change the landscape of the Bradford Manningham area and allow under-privileged youngsters and low-income families to benefit from a brand new sports facility.
“We hope that the facility can be a stepping stone for some of the youngsters to one day have the opportunity to play football at Bradford City Football Club.”
Ex-footballer Uddin added: “This is a game changer for the city of Bradford and the surrounding areas which will leave a legacy that will last long into the future. We’ve seen the Bangla Bantams become a staple at Valley Parade, hopefully that will soon translate on the pitch.”
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