A new football tournament in Brent supported by WNST, the inaugural Wembley Super League, has been making positive waves over the 2019 school summer break, with dozens of local young people taking part. The brainchild of former local councillor Zaffar Van Kalwala, working together with Abdi Farah and others from Connect Stars, the league has run a twice-weekly fixtures programme for U13 and U15 boys throughout August; with all matches played at the Ark Elvin Academy in Wembley. A comparable girls’ tournament is scheduled to take place in the Spring of 2020, to co-incide with next year’s International Women’s Day.
It has long been noted that the borough of Brent, home of Wembley Stadium and the historic heart of football, has had no youth competition of its own. Local teams have had to enter leagues based in neighbouring boroughs. The Wembley Super League presents an opportunity for Brent to fashion a local resource for its clubs. The launch of the league received good coverage in the local press: https://www.kilburntimes.co.uk/news/free-crime-fighting-football-project-for-teens-in-wembley-1-6203306
Over 200 boys have taken part in the league this year, which is a tremendous achievement and thanks to the coaches and managers of local clubs that entered teams. One of the key aims of the league has been to provide local young people with meaningful, structured and continuing activities in which to take part over the long summer break – something that has clearly been achieved.
With this being the first year of the initiative, numbers were kept to a manageable level, so that the scheme could be evaluated properly and lessons learned.
Whilst the football was, as expected, skilful and hotly contested by all the teams, what has really impressed is the respect and commitment shown by all the participants for the game, the officials and the competition. It was also great to see so many family and friends coming along to spectate; their support has been much appreciated.
It is also excellent news that the league has been endorsed by the Middlesex FA, which has appointed referees and linesmen for all games, adding to the sense of occasion for each match; see http://www.middlesexfa.com/news/2019/aug/28/home-of-english-football-kicks-off-its-newest-league
Finals day itself, at the end of August, was a festival of football, with six matches played to decide the destination of the trophies. Despite the high stakes, the games continued to be played in the best of spirits. Of course, there have to be winners and losers, all part of the tournament’s competitive structure and part of the participants’ learning curve.
You can see highlights of finals day here: https://youtu.be/xH1tRTJTHp0
The WNST Chief Executive, Stewart Goshawk was invited along to finals day, to help present the medals and trophies. He said “This year’s Wembley Super League has surpassed our high expectations. We know that clubs in the borough have long wanted a local competition, offering regular football for some of their players. Running the event over the summer holiday period provided opportunities to keep these young people fit and active during the long school break, as well as giving them the chance to play competitive football. The whole project has been a real success.”
Thanks go to Zaffar van Kalwala and Abdi Farah for their organisation of the league and to the club managers and coaches for their commitment to the project. Thanks also to Middlesex FA for their support and encouragement and to their referees and linesmen, who officiated with skill and professionalism.
The overall reception that the Wembley Super League has received has been uniformly positive and suggests that there is real appetite for more competitions of this kind in Brent.
We now look forward with keen anticipation to the inaugural girls league in March 2020 and trust that the success of the boys’ summer competition will be replicated.