West Ham United Community Sports Trust social inclusion officer George Chukwuma has hailed the success of the Trust's first-ever Learning Academy trial.
Nearly 50 teenagers turned out to show off their skills in a bid to win a place at the Learning Academy, which will see youngsters educated through sport, learning the transferable skills that are required by athletes.
Trust partner Newham College will offer participants the opportunity to choose from a variety of vocational and academic courses, giving talented young sportsmen and women the opportunity to develop their skills and career.
Following the first of two trials, Chukwuma said the Trust was delighted with the interest shown in the course by local youngsters.
"What is happening is that the Trust has partnered up with Newham College to work on a programme to try to get participants to join our Learning Academy," said Chukwuma.
"They will do their education with Newham College and they come to train with us three days a week and also play a game on the Wednesday in the College League.
"It's another little scholarship and giving local boys from the area a chance to do what they love doing, which is playing football, but at the same time educating them and giving them more opportunities in life.
"They do not have to do a sports course at college. They can pick any course at Newham College, so that will be very good for them."
A second trial will take place on Saturday 22 June between 12pm-3pm at the West Ham United Community Sports Trust, 60A Albatross Close, off Woolwich Manor Way, Beckton, London, E6 5NX.
East London-born Chukwuma himself worked his way up through the Trust himself, having started out as a volunteer, and he believes many other local youngsters can follow a similar path by joining the Learning Academy.
Chukwuma added that the most-promising youngsters to attend the Learning Academy could even forge themselves careers in the game if they are good enough.
"The boys who came to the first trial and who will attend the second have an opportunity, and if there are any good, talented players we can direct them to the right people and get them the right coaching.
"We want to move them all forward and get them opportunities, which is why these types of courses are so good for the local boys from this area.
"Those involved in this course get their FA Level 1 coaching badge if they want to take that route into coaching. They also get Community Leadership Levels 1 and 2 and we also give them great experience to go out into the local community to work with clubs and schools.
"It will provide them with opportunities and qualifications and experience which will all be good for them."
West Ham United Community Sports Trust is involved in a wide range of programmes across east London and Essex, including the Kickz social inclusion scheme, Health and wellbeing projects, Employability, training, apprenticeships and enterprise schemes, Football development, Multi-sports coaching and participation and the West Ham United Inspire Learning Centre.
Equalities, inclusion and cohesion are themes that are common across all programmes that the Trust delivers. Within these there are specific initiatives to promote inclusion and participation in specific areas, such as disability sports, girls' and women's sports, Asians in sport (as part of the PL4Sports Project) and Faith & Football.
The importance of the Trust's role will only increase within the context of the club's proposed move to the Olympic Stadium and the need to deliver, long-term, the London 2012 community and sporting legacy.
For more information about West Ham United Community Sports Trust, its work and the opportunities available, click here.