West Ham United duo Adrian and Pedro Obiang launched the third annual Lycamobile Cup at the Beckton home of the West Ham United Foundation on Tuesday evening.
The successful Lycamobile Cup forms part of the longstanding relationship between Lycamobile, the world’s biggest international mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), and West Ham United.
Tuesday’s Beckton opener was the first of four regional heats, with some 24 local U12 and U14 sides battling it out to make it through to an exclusive finals day at the Boleyn Ground in the summer.
Spanish midfielder Obiang enjoyed his trip to the Foundation and reckons the youngsters will revel in the limelight at the Boleyn Ground next year.
"It's always a great experience to come here because I remember what it was like to be a kid playing football too," the former Sampdoria man said.
"I think that's a great initiative becaue when I was younger I had a similar opportunity, getting the chance to play at the first-team stadium really makes you feel close to being a football star."
The tournament has seen a dramatic rise in participation since its inaugural year in 2013/14, with upward of 3,500 participants last season.
The remaining heats are now set for Chobham Academy in East Village of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Barking Abbey School and Caterham High School in Redbridge.
On the night, West Ham United Kicks stole the show in the U12s category, with Tonbridge Angels Youth earning the runners up spot.
For the U14s, Langdon Academy was edged into second spot by winners St Bonaventure’s Catholic Comprehensive School. All four sides can now look forward to a once-in-a-lifetime outing at the Boleyn Ground in 2016.