After endless delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the new youth football league run by Wembley Football, and supported by the Wembley National Stadium Trust, has finally taken to the pitch. The latest easing of restrictions meant that outdoor community sport for young people could again take place, allowing this great new initiative to get started.
Despite LB Brent being the location of Wembley Stadium and the home of football, there has never, in living memory, been a competitive league based in the borough for our young people to take part in. But that is changing. We all know just how hard lockdown has been for children and young people, unable to get outside and play with their friends. Let’s hope Wembley Football helps to improve things. This first year’s competition is something of test run, with leagues for U10s and U13s, with the hope that this can be expanded in future years (we know the demand is there).
From the outset, the response from clubs, coaches and parents has been amazingly positive, and we are grateful for everyone’s patience, until we were able to run the league safely and securely. All matches are played on Saturdays at Ark Elvin Academy (on Wembley High Rd) and we thank them for allowing us into the school’s facilities at the earliest opportunity.
This first weekend’s fixtures were keenly contested, with some great play on show. Results for all games will be posted on www.wembleyfootball.com but for all concerned, the main thing was that the young people were on the pitch playing, and enjoying themselves. Blessed with a bright sunny morning, parents, carers and friends also came out in their droves to watch the games being played (from a Covid-safe distance).
This is the first step on what we hope will be a real game-changer for local youth football in Brent, adding to what is already available in other parts of north-west London. In time, Wembley Football has the potential to enable thousands of local girls and boys to enjoy playing the beautiful game competitively and to create some truly memorable occasions.
But Wembley Football wouldn’t have taken shape at all without the help and support of so many people, not least its lead Zaffar van Kalwala but also Abdi Farah and his team at Connect Stars, as well as colleagues at Middlesex FA and QPR in the Community – and of course all of the teams, their coaches and volunteers. We are so grateful to you all.