Hammers clinch third Kicks title in a row

West Ham U16s continued the club's great run in the Premier League Kicks Cup competition
West Ham United Foundation made it three tournament wins in as many years as its mixed U16s side continued their impressive Premier League Kicks Cup form with a victory in the 2016 event.
Under intermittent spring showers, the young Hammers gathered at Forest Recreation Ground in Nottingham to put their skills to the test in a competitive tournament against 52 other Premier and Football League clubs.
After five hours of competition, the Irons beat Leicester City 2-0 in a well contested final to seal the Foundation’s third Kicks Cup in a row.
A vintage defensive showing saw the team go the entire competition without conceding a goal, while racking up an impressive 24 goals en route to the coveted trophy.
Francis John-Baptiste, who scored both goals in the final, was delighted to come away with the Kicks Cup: “I was really nervous in the final and all I wanted to do was help the team. It’s an amazing feeling to have won the competition, especially as this makes it three years in a row for West Ham!”
The mixed U16s side that also included Claudio Boakye, Andrejus Bagdanavicius, Sam Mvemba, Yonis Farah, Evandro Goncalves Semedo, Laquan Liddell and Edon Hodaj are all current participants on West Ham United Foundation Kicks programme.
George Chukwuma, Foundation Community Sports Officer and coach of the team expressed his delight at lifting the trophy for a third year in a row, but was clear that that there was more to it than winning for the youngsters:
“Obviously we are over the moon to have won the mixed competition for a third year in a row, but just to be invited and have the opportunity to bring our Kicks participants up here for a full day of football is incredible.
“To have the chance to wear the West Ham United badge and represent the Club gives the kids so much confidence and a real sense of belonging. They should be tremendously proud of themselves.”
The Foundation also saw a girl’s U16 side compete in the tournament, where they fought hard within a tough group which included Liverpool and Tottenham, before exiting the competition.
Nick Perchard, Acting Head of Community Development at the Premier League stated: “The Premier League Kicks Cup is the culmination of the programme over the year. It’s really our opportunity to thank the clubs and thank the young people that come regularly to the programme every week and give them the opportunity to meet other people from different parts of the country.”
All the players at the Forest Recreation Ground participate in the Premier League Kicks project, which uses the appeal of clubs to engage young people in disadvantaged areas of the country, giving them the chance to do something positive with their time.
The Premier League Kicks programme began in 2006 as a pilot project in London between the Premier League, Sport England and the Metropolitan Police with the aim of using football to bring communities together and to engage with young people. This year’s event saw 53 Premier League and Football League clubs descend on Nottingham for the competition with 77 U16 teams – 52 mixed and 25 girls play for the chance to be crowned champions.