As part of West Ham United’s ongoing community work through the Players’ Project, women’s first teamers Tessel Middag and Laura Vetterlein visited Barking and Dagenham’s Future Youth Zone last night.
The players took part in the event on International Women’s Day, where local young people heard from a series of inspirational female speakers about their own experiences, with Youth Zone members putting on performances and running a football training session.
Barking and Dagenham Youth Zone, named by young people as ‘Future’, is a purpose-built facility for the borough’s young people aged 8 to 19, and up to 25 for those with disabilities. The Youth Zone provides a safe environment where young people can go and enjoy themselves and enables young people to raise their aspirations and confidence to create a happier and healthier generation.
It was a brilliant event for International Women’s Day and hopefully this borough will continue to have a lot more inspiring women coming through, as it has in the past.
Midfielder Middag said; “I hope we did inspire them, but both Laura and I were inspired ourselves by the other strong women in attendance.
“To speak to these young girls was really nice. You remind yourself of what you were like at their age and you try to give them tips that you would have wanted. It was a brilliant event for International Women’s Day and hopefully this borough will continue to have a lot more inspiring women coming through, as it has in the past. If, just by being female professional footballers, we can inspire them and be role models for them, then that’s fantastic.
“The situation 20 years ago, when Laura and I were both growing up, was completely different for women’s football. It’s great to see that girls have way more opportunities now to become professional footballers. It doesn’t matter what they want to be though, as long as we can all keep taking these little steps.”
Gavin Evans, Chief Executive of Future Youth Zone said; “I would first of all like to say a big thank you to Tessel, Laura, and West Ham United for taking the time to come down to Future Youth Zone and be here with us to inspire the females and young women that we have attending.
“It’s really important that our community get behinds young women and helps them to believe that they can achieve anything that they want to do in life. Tessel and Laura have got amazing stories that they shared with the young people at the event, which will only inspire them in their own future journeys and help them to believe they can achieve anything they want to.”
“It’s such a big thing for us”, Vetterlein added. “I always enjoy events like this, where you can see that the girls are really looking forward to meeting you, asking you questions and take photos. I always take a lot from these events because it’s so nice to see that you can inspire others. Whatever these girls want to do, it is great to see that passion, and if I can inspire them a bit towards those fields then even better. I just love seeing all these motivated and passionate girls and being a part of this movement.
“If we can make a positive impact on them, and help them not be scared of any obstacles they might face, and set high goals and then achieve them, then it’s perfect!”