Community seal of approval

FA Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards has heaped praise on West Ham United's work in the local community.

Richards visited the Boleyn Ground recently to view the Multi-Sports Access and Retention Scheme (MARS) - a community development project designed to engage Newham residents in Olympic and Paralympic sport.

Organised by West Ham United Community Sports Trust in partnership with the London Borough of Newham and the FA Premier League/PFA Community Fund, the scheme is aimed at encouraging residents to take up sports such as football, tennis, basketball and athletics.

Funded in part by the FA Premier League/PFA Community Fund, MARS saw West Ham players Jonathan Spector, Kieron Dyer and Freddie Sears, as well as Olympic high jumper Dalton Grant and Paralympic basketball player Ade Adepitan, take part in a variety of sporting activities with youngsters.

Richards was impressed by what he had seen.

"I came down to have a look at what was going on because I go back a lot of years with West Ham, especially with the Football Foundation, who have done an awful lot of work with the club," said Richards. "The Premier League community set-up also does a lot for local children.

"We've always looked on West Ham as being a real community club and the Premier League is always pleased to be involved with the club's projects. West Ham are great because they just get on and do it, and that for us is fantastic.

"If we supply the money and West Ham do what they are good at with regards to community work, then that's fantastic for us both."