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Page last updated at 11:54 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 12:54 UK

'Total urban football at its finest'

By Andrew Bontiff
BBC Blast reporter

Andrew interviews a player after a disputed last-second goal
Andrew interviews a player after a disputed last-second goal

My two days spent at Your Game in London were totally incredible and two days that without doubt will stick in my memory for a very long time.

After experiencing Your Game last year at Leyton Orient and winning the best commentary award I had a great taste of it and was eager to participate once again.

Your Game is special to me because it gives young people like myself, aged 16-25, the opportunity to showcase their talents, whether its football, DJing or reporting. Luckily for me I have a huge interest in all three, so it was like taking a kid to a candy store!

My role this year was taking part in the BBC Blast scheme, reporting at the event, interviewing players and other participants. It was so amazing and I could not wait to get started, this was something I only dreamt of and now it was a reality. I was given the chance to go out there and do my thing.

Considering I had never done anything like this before, there were bound to be a few out-takes and a couple stutters here and there, but with the support of the players it really helped me out and underlined the unity from everyone at the Coram's Field venue.

The response I got from the players was really positive, they all enjoyed the two days and relished the chance to compete against other teams from different communities and "rep their endz".

This was backed by their performances with amazing tricks and flicks which I am sure would have impressed the Ball Fusion freestylers on show, especially champion Billy Wingrove, who comes from London.

Billy Wingrove inspires the crowd with his freestyle moves
Billy Wingrove inspires the crowd with his freestyle moves

Billy has worked with the most skilful players in the modern game such as Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Barcelona and Brazilian star Ronaldinho.

"There's so much raw talent," he said. "With a lot of these urban teenagers they play the same that I played. When I was younger, I didn't have much space, I never had pitches to play on. It was only a small area so your control has to be everything and seeing it today was unbelievable."

Also enjoying the sunshine was Leicester City striker DJ Campbell. Only a few seasons ago Campbell was playing non-league football with Yeading so he knows exactly what it means to the players aiming to reach the top and make a name for themselves.

"It's all about opportunities - so never give up and keep at it," was his advice having experienced the highs of scoring in the FA Cup to the lows of recent relegation with Leicester.

One player who definitely kept at it was Frida Ayisi who sent everyone home talking about her performance for Ladies First in the women's final on Sunday.

Over the years we have seen Paraguayan keeper Chilavert score free-kicks and even Fabien Barthez try some audacious moves but never before have we witnessed a keeper continuously coming out of goal, using stepovers to go past defenders and slotting the ball in the back of the net for a memorable goal.

Her performance was just perfect for the occasion. The two-day event was total urban football at its finest.

As well as the football there were performances by two of the UK's rising MC's - Bashy and Tor.

That was surely the most entertaining part of the event, or at least the liveliest. After the two artists did their thing, it was then time for those who took part in the MC workshop with 1Xtra's Ace and Vis to show off in front of a blazing audience.

Andrew in action with Radio 1Xtra's Ace on the turntables
Andrew in action with Radio 1Xtra's Ace on the turntables

Both Saturday and Sunday were a huge success but my reporting duties could not be complete without getting an interview with Your Game host and 1Xtra Drum and Bass legend L Double, who was in mood for a celebration after Manchester United won the Premier League.

When I asked him to reflect on Your Game he said he got a wicked vibe from all the workshops, the football and dancing. He also explained that his favourite locations were Bristol along with Leeds, Newcastle and, of course, London.

"Your Game means inclusion," he said. "If you're 16-25, come along and play football. If you don't have a kit, we'll give you one. It's all about getting thousands to play, making sure everyone feels equal and letting the football speak."

As Your Game came to an end of a sunny weekend, I realised how fortunate I was to play a part in the event and I really enjoyed the Blast photography workshop. I feel proud to be doing this and it was also great to see others really enjoy themselves, which is what it's all about.

I would like to thank the BBC and the Your Game team for this wonderful opportunity. It was a great experience which can hopefully help me in the future. I also want to say well done to all the players, dancers and freestylers.

Good luck in your respective futures and I send my best wishes to all the campaigns and charities helping to improve the lives of those in under-served communities.

More opportunities like this are available via the BBC Blast website.

see also
Your Game is back in 2008
09 Nov 07 |  Your Game
Your Game London photos
14 May 08 |  Your Game
Your Game London photos
14 May 08 |  Your Game
'A day to make Nottingham proud'
04 Apr 08 |  Your Game

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