Alongside the development of youth footballers into professionals, the Academy of Football also focuses on providing a varied education to the youngsters that pass through the doors of Chadwell Heath.
Each year the West Ham United U12s take part in an educational project partnered with the Premier League that is centred around World War One. The goal of this project is to help develop the knowledge and understanding of some of the events that took place between 1914 and 1918.
In previous years the U12s squads have looked in detail at the battle of Passchendaele and the life of Walter Tull, who was a professional footballer at the time of the war.
This year the project focused on the Flu Epidemic that swept across Europe at the end of the WWI; 313,000 cases of the disease were reported, with many losing their lives as a result.
Here at West Ham we think that it is really important to give our players a holistic education, as well as a footballing development programme.
As part of this initiative the West Ham U12s were tasked with raising awareness of the flu virus and decided to make a video to share within the local community.
The Flu epidemic is a lesser-known aspect of the First World War and there is still no memorial to the victims of this pandemic in the UK.
As well as this the U12 squad were invited to take part in a qualifier tournament over Remembrance weekend for the Truce Tournament that takes place each year in Ypres, Belgium.
Back in 16/17 West Ham were successful in winning the qualifiers but they were unable to replicate that feat this time around.
Unfortunately, the young side were didn't get to progress to the finals in Belgium but put in a spirited display over the weekend at the Army Barracks in Aldershot.
The Flu100 video that the squad created to highlight how the virus spreads can be seen below.
The premise of the video was to demonstrate how the awareness of flu can spread through social media from person-to-person, similarly to how the virus spread in the early 1900s.
Each year the Premier League awards two spots in the prestigious Truce Tournament for the most engaging educational projects and the young Hammers still have a chance to qualify for their work off the pitch.
West Ham United’s Head of Education Oli Lethbridge detailed the importance of providing a diverse education programme at the club.
“Here at West Ham we think that it is really important to give our players a holistic education, as well as a footballing development programme,” he said.
“This allows young players to undertake educational projects, where they can learn about something that is so important to this country’s history.
“Then, within their roles as being young role models, they can use that voice to raise awareness in the local community.”