The West Ham United Academy is delighted to confirm a unique partnership with Frenford Clubs that will see the Iford-based club play host to the Emerging Hammers Programme.
The Emerging Hammers Programme gives young players aged 14 or under the opportunity to develop prior to potentially entering the Academy of Football, allowing the Club insight into emerging talent in the local community prior to officially joining the Academy system.
The Academy’s partnership with Frenford Clubs will also see both entities work closely on strategies to widen the talent pool of potential players, coaches and scouts from South Asian communities who are underrepresented in the beautiful game.
Part of that journey will also see Academy staff working closely with Frenford Clubs coaches in providing ongoing mentoring support and their own career progression. Interim Academy Manager Kenny Brown, Head of Coaching Development Kalam Mooniaruck and other senior members of the Academy coaching team will support Frenford staff in their Continuous Coaching Development (CPD).
“Everyone in the West Ham United Academy is delighted to partner with Frenford Clubs for our Emerging Hammers programme,” Brown said.
“I have personally visited the team in Ilford, in the heart of east London. It was a truly uplifting and insightful experience to see the incredible work they do with young people in their local community.
“West Ham United is a Club that is built on the pillars of community and family values, and you can also see those values clearly in the work and support network provided by everyone at Frenford.
“Twelve players have already progressed through Emerging Hammers and have joined the Academy, and we’re eager to see even more make that step through the programme. The long-term goal is to provide young people from all walks of life with real role models from their communities.
“All children aspire to see people who look like them represented on television and in society, and the South Asian community has been underrepresented throughout the world of football. At West Ham United, we’re eager to change that mindset, and we hope this partnership is the first step in doing so.”
West Ham United's partnership with Frenford Clubs builds on the Club's creation of an Academy Link Mentor role - a role undertaken by Rashid Abba - to strengthen links between South Asian communities in East London.
Neal Akhtar, Head of Youth Football at Frenford Clubs, is looking forward to working closely with West Ham United, having already worked with Rashid Abba in engaging with South Asian communities in football to provide opportunities and create inspirational pathways.
Akhtar said: “This is a fantastic partnership and everyone at Frenford is appreciative of West Ham United for using our site and facilities to develop the Emerging Hammers programme.
“Everyone at Frenford is truly proud of our work with players and coaches from underrepresented backgrounds and we are looking forward to working closely with West Ham United in providing more inspirational and transformational opportunities for progression to these people.
“Working closely with Rashid, Kenny and the coaching staff at the Academy will give us the tools to further develop our aspirational coaches at Frenford. This, in turn, will allow our coaching team to provide a better quality of player development for our young players.”
Shane O’Gorman, Academy Recruitment Manager U11-U14s, is excited to see talent progress through the Emerging Hammers programme with Frenford Clubs.
O’Gorman said: “I am very pleased to work with Neal at Frenford Clubs. Emerging Hammers was set up to identify talented players in the local community and provide them access to local facilities in order to receive high-quality training sessions.
“So far we have seen a fantastic level of success through the scheme, with a number of local lads progressing into the Academy system. We are looking forward to even more joining us in the Academy of Football.”