Former Hammers striker Marlon Harewood returned to London Stadium recently to help launch the Premier League Enterprise challenge - a scheme which gives young people from the local area opportunities they otherwise would not receive.
The Premier League (PL) Enterprise Challenge is a national competition for young people from Years 8, 9 and 10. Now in its tenth year the challenge aims to engage and inspire groups of young people who are identified as underachieving or at risk of not achieving their full potential.
The challenge also helps participants to further their understanding of Business, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, particularly in relation to the operations of a professional football club.
The event at the Hammers' home was the first round of Club heats. The winner of the West Ham United Foundation heats is given the chance to progress to the next round of presentations and represent West Ham United in the regional play-offs. Two of the schools in the Heats were Alternative Provision Schools, meaning they work with children who have previously been expelled or had trouble in lessons.
For the heats at the Stadium, eight schools from East London and Essex were given a brief around attracting young adult fans to West Ham United games.
In the run up to the event West Ham United Foundation Enterprise Officers organised school sessions with the groups to help them develop their presentations. Half of the schools attending were West Ham United Foundation Community Hub Schools, which showcase the work that the Foundation are doing in the community.
The Hammers enlisted the help of three expert judges to help make the difficult decision of the top three schools - Marlon Harewood, Emily Walker and Mark Kass. Harewood, of course, is an ex-West Ham player who has started two businesses since retiring. Emily Walker is a Marketing Executive for West Ham United and was able to offer the participants specialised advice and questions around marketing. Mark Kass is the CEO of Enterprise 4 Good and will work with the winning team to prepare for the next round.
Each school had a five-minute presentation to showcase their idea, which was followed by a short question and answer session with the judges.
The winners were announced as Barking Abbey School for their plan to introduce a points app to link with social media and attempt to attract the target audience of 18-23 year-olds. The judges felt that this group had the best chance of strengthening and developing their idea for the next round of the competition.
Head of Learning Jesse Foyle said of the event: "It was great to see all the hard work schools have put into thinking of a solution to the brief. We are thrilled to be able to put such a strong team into the next round of the Premier League Enterprise competition."
Afterwards Pedro Obiang and Oladapo Afolayan were on hand to congratulate the winning team and hand out goody bags and certificates to all participants.
Barking Abbey School now progress to the next round of the Premier League Enterprise competition, hoping to progress to the finals in March.