Thames Gateway Youth Football Project

The Thames Gateway Youth Football Project is a unique partnership involving the government, the private sector and four football clubs: West Ham United, Charlton Athletic, Leyton Orient and Millwall. The project aims to assist the personal development of local young people, both boys and girls, with emphasis on those absent from school and those at risk of offending. The project reaches thousands of young children, providing opportunities for recreation, high quality fitness training and social education across some of the most deprived areas in east London. With continuing success the Thames Gateway Youth Football Project has been able to expand into 8 London boroughs. Our current partners include the Children's Fund (Barking & Dagenham) and New Deal for Communities (West Ham and Plaistow, Newham).

After-school coaching sessions for both primary and secondary school students have been set up to combat the trend in juvenile crime immediately after the end of the school day. Children are currently benefiting from the programme from many schools in the boroughs of Newham, Thurrock and Barking and Dagenham.

The Thames Gateway Youth Football Project at West Ham United works in partnership with the Social and Educational services, the Criminal justice system and the Local authorities. Football coaching sessions and social education are provided for young people who may be absent from mainstream school, involved with the criminal justice system or at risk of becoming involved. The focus of this scheme is to engage the young people and to raise their confidence and self-esteem both for sport and in society. An academic element can also be offered as part of this scheme. This involves the West Ham United Study Support Centre and introduces numeracy, literacy and computer skills within a football context.

Together with agencies that include the Local Authority, the Police and the Youth Service, local areas with particular problems of deprivation and crime are identified. This programme provides young people with access to playing and coaching opportunities in their local area. Mini-tournaments are regularly organised for the young people attending these sessions and opportunities exist for young people to form teams and enter a league.

This programme offers children the opportunity to learn about healthy living and also enjoy football coaching from a West Ham United coach.
A classroom-based session involving a discussion on sports nutrition, exercise and fitness is followed by structured coaching/small-sided football matches. The aim of this programme is to educate children on nutrition and exercise for sport and to teach skills and techniques of the game in a safe and friendly environment.


With this project we aim to increase participation in football by young women. It is hoped that this programme will eventually mirror and become as extensive as the estates programme with the development of a girls' only league.

This programme provides young people actively involved with the project the opportunity to attain Football Association Coaching Qualifications. These include the Junior Football Organisers Course and 1st4Sport Levels 1 and 2 Certificates in Coaching Football. This accreditation for the young people will hopefully lead to increased employment opportunities. Youth and Community workers and parents can also be offered the opportunity to obtain these qualifications in order that they can play a more active role in the coaching sessions.

Phil Church
Thames Gateway Youth Football Project Manager