Foundation youngsters enjoy Rush Green training session


A group of schoolchildren from Gateway Primary Free School in Tilbury enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime training session when they visited West Ham United’s first team base at Rush Green recently.

The extra-special session, part of the Moore Family Foundation’s initiative to work with vulnerable youngsters by promoting respect, honour and hard work within the local community, as well as encouraging healthy lifestyles, saw the youngsters put through their paces before meeting several of the first team stars.

Hammers hero Michail Antonio was grilled by the young contingent in an exclusive Q&A covering a range of subjects, from his favourite goal and favourite dance to how much his life has changed since starting out in non-league football.

Captain Mark Noble and first team coach Julian Dicks, along with Aaron Cresswell, Darren Randolph and new signing Jose Fonte, then greeted the youngsters and posed for photos amid a flurry of autographs.

After meeting the students, the Hammers’ No1 Randolph beamed: “It’s always nice to be able to do something for kids, as you can see they’re enjoying a run around and making lots of noise.

“The Moore Family Foundation is a very special organisation and does a lot of great work in the local community. The work of the Foundation does is very important, particularly for a club like West Ham, which has a presence in a lot of deprived areas.

“The kids clearly enjoyed their special day here, meeting the players, watching training and going behind the scenes here at the training ground, it’s a really nice thing for us to be able to do.”

Kyle Taylor, aged 10, was delighted to meet some of his heroes: “I loved it, it was just so fun to meet the players, I’ve never met anyone famous before so it was very special. They’re great players, I’m a West Ham fan so I loved it.”

As did Joanna Emechete, who echoed her classmate’s sentiments, saying: “It’s amazing, we did some drills and fun games. It was so cool to meet the footballers, I was speechless! It was an amazing experience, a dream come true.”

Their teacher, Amanda Arnold, was just as enthralled as her students. “It’s been absolutely amazing,” said Amanda. “A fantastic opportunity to meet the players and experience training in a top class facility like this, something the kids certainly aren’t used to, so it’s a been a fantastic day.

“It was a very special moment, the excitement of the children was amazing, they had a real buzz. To meet them in person is something they usually wouldn’t ever get the opportunity to do and you could really feel the children’s excitement.”

The visit represented one of the ways the West Ham United Foundation is helping to raise awareness for the Moore Family Foundation – with Wednesday’s Premier League encounter with Manchester City dedicated to the charity’s cause. Launched in 2014, the programme launched at Ripple Primary School, Barking - Bobby Moore's primary school - is now in its third year and is on target to engage with 16,000 pupils in the local area.

Roberta Moore, daughter of the late, great Bobby Moore and a patron of the Foundation, will be in attendance at Wednesday’s game to address the 57,000 crowd at half-time about the positive effect the programme is having on young students.

Foundation Mentor Tajammil Hussain, who helps deliver the Moore Family Foundation and organised the training session, said: “We go into schools all across Thurrock, Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Tower Hamlets to mentor young people. In everything we do, we try to encourage values that Bobby Moore installed. It’s all about continuing those values in our local community.”