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Last Updated: Monday, 10 April 2006, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
East End Game
By Alistair Magowan

The BBC's Your Game national five-a-side tournament is well underway and touched down in east London last week.

Focus United
Focus United won the tournament on penalties

Held at the Score Community Complex, in the shadows of Leyton Orient's home ground, teams from local youth and community groups were aiming for a place in the final at St James Park, Newcastle.

But the tournament wasn't just about making it to Newcastle United's hallowed turf.

BBC Sport Academy went down to catch up with some of the players and supporters to see what the initiative is all about.

Matt Holland: Premiership footballer for Charlton

For me this kind of thing brings me back down to Earth. This is basically where it all started for me, playing on small pitches.

I started playing football on Sunday mornings for Harlow Sports Centre and, as proven today, the team spirit is the most important thing.

Matt Holland
Matt Holland leaves the DJing to the youngsters

The youngsters have come from different backgrounds so you maybe would expect one or two problems but there's been none of that and everyone's shown a great attitude towards the day.

The standard has been pretty good and there's some great opportunities - and not just in football.

There's some DJing going on, an opportunity to coach and referee; and even a chance to be a commentator.

I've done some co-commentating but forget the decks. I had a look at them and I had no idea what to do!

Jeff Adams: Captain of Gateway All-stars

My hostel have training days once a week and we play a league match once a month. Since we heard about the Your Game tournament we've been training really hard.

The hostel is for homeless young people. I've been there for about two years because my family home was a bit crowded, so I've been looking for work and trying to progress my football.

Jeff lives for football

I love football so much. It's the only thing I can wake up and say I can do straight away. I play it, I watch it, I listen to it on the radio. I think about it all the time.

Football helps me get my frustrations out. If I'm angry with certain things in life like I've got no money or my mum's sick or I can't help anyone in my family, I just take it out with my football.

I hope that one day it's going to be all worth it.

I give Matt Holland the utmost of ratings, he looked like a normal person. He respected us and he talked to us on our level. It was quite incredible to meet him.

Nick Friday: Project manager of Eastside Youth Academy

I know for certain that if some of the players weren't here today they'd be doing the wrong thing back on the estate.

They'd be bored and just wouldn't have anything to get into. Football gives them an opportunity to play in a team, have competition, get coached and learn a few things about life itself.

Nick is a big believer that football can unite different communities

Football is probably the best tool in the world to bring people together, it breaks down barriers between people.

We've recently organised the Hackney Estates tournament, which involved six teams from housing estates who were having problems together with this postcode rivalry and territorial wars that are going on.

For example if you're from E9 and you're walking in E5 and you get spotted, they'll chase you and if they catch you, you may get a hiding.

But we mixed all the teams up so that boys from different estates and postcodes played in the same team so they had to pull together.

People that didn't speak to each other have now made friends. Boys can walk freely in postcodes that are not their own now, which they were frightened to do before.

Today we've met some people from west London and we'll certainly be going down to play some matches with them and hopefully we can bring them over to east London too.

Ryan Morton: Midfielder for Harlow Foyer

The foyer has over a hundred people in it and is a place young people go to try and sort out their lives. They give you a programme to go out and get a job and find some housing.

I've been at the foyer for a couple of months, my dad chucked me out, he didn't really like me. Being at the foyer has helped me out a lot, it gets me out doing stuff.

Harlow Foyer
Ryan (second from left, back row) plays for the Harlow Foyer team

Each floor at the foyer has a representative and I'm one of them right now. I'm looking for work and doing football training in my spare time.

This is our first tournament, it's been an experience, we lost every game!

We can improve though, no problem. We only started a couple of weeks ago, so we didn't really have time to train but hopefully next time there's a tournament we can get a bit better first.

It depends on whether our goalie, Shaggy, can pull off a few more saves!!

Stan Herman: Goalkeeper for Roma United

I'm from Poland and I've been in England for about seven years. The tournament is quite good and we got to the quarter-finals. I would like to come and do it every year.

The best bit has been scoring goals and making some good saves. I would like to be professional but we'll see how it goes.

Roma support group has helped me and my family and helps us feel part of the community but I'm not supporting West Ham. It's Arsenal all the way to the Champions League final!

Danny Shittu: Championship footballer for QPR

I help run the Eastside Youth Academy which has been going for about three years.

I get down on Tuesdays to help out with the training when I can. I basically teach them everything I'm taught at QPR and we get about 60 or 70 kids every week.

Danny Shittu
Danny Shittu says there was little to do when he was growing up in Bow

These are just kids off the streets that don't have anything to do. They're coming down to learn and we've got about 20 kids into professional clubs which is a good thing as well.

But that's just a bonus. It's really about getting them to come down and learn about respect, learn that they can do what they want to do.

Some of the boys are getting into coaching as well. One of the boys was coaching the team that got to the final today.

When youngsters see things like Your Game it gives them positive things to do like DJing or coaching.

For them to be here, it shows that they want these kind of things. It's the kind of thing they need.

I hope more and more of these things happen and more professional footballers come and show their faces because these kid appreciate it.

Links to more Your Game stories


Your Game promo

BBC Your Game tournament begins
08 Mar 06 |  Your Game

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