Jason Roberts Foundation Launch Revolutionary New Hyde Development League
The unique concept promises to offer young people in the community exciting opportunities in football and work by AtTheMatch
I am excited that we can offer young people opportunities and the skill set that they otherwise would not have got". Jason Roberts speaks at the public launch event of the inaugural Hyde League for budding youth footballers, which starts in the new year.
The Hyde Development League, a new initiative designed to help bridge the gap between grassroots and academy football, as well as offer training work and volunteering opportunities for young people, was launched earlier in December by the Jason Roberts Foundation at a prestigious event in the Hilton Hotel in Wembley, with the legendary former Grenada international centre-forward to whom the name of the foundation is lent just one of the several luminaries present in North London that evening in order to provide their support to this ground-breaking movement. This aspect is being supported by Comic Relief and Sport England.
The inaugural season of the Hyde League, set up by the London-based Soccerlution Academy and Hyde Housing in conjunction with the Jason Roberts Foundation, begins in January 2016 and will seek to hone and showcase the talents of up and coming footballers at both under-16 and under-21 age level.
Matches will be played at the Pavilion at Stonebridge every second Sunday, in the shadow of the nearby iconic Wembley Stadium arch. Such clubs as West Ham United Foundation, Queens Park Rangers Foundation, Crystal Palace and Cambridge United will boast representative teams in the competition, alongside rosters from several academies such as those run by organisations including Soccerlution, Guy Mascolo Charity and UEFA 16/18 and high-achieving players with community links such as Roberts as well as the Turkey and Feyenoord international striker Colin Kazim-Richards.
What makes the league such a stand-out concept is the clear message being portrayed from the very beginning by its illustrious backers that there should be no barriers to a talented child being able to realise their potential to the fullest and make it to the top, regardless of their background or social standing. Without a ball even being kicked in anger in this competition, the Hyde League has already attracted so much interest and commitment in football circles that there is almost zero possibility of the project not contributing to football and social development in a highly tangible way over the foreseeable future.
The second key driver of the Hyde Development League is to offer empowerment opportunities to young people in the community via volunteering and employment opportunities. Football obviously goes beyond just the twenty-two players on the pitch on a matchday, and there will be ample opportunities for eager and youthful individuals to lend their hand to assist the League both on and off the pitch. The League aims to develop life skills through the valuable medium of competitive sport. Speaking at the launch, long-serving Jason Roberts Foundation coach Zaine Gangadeen said as well as offering a great opportunity for young hungry players to compete at a high standard, the League will also offer a desirable and transferable skill set. "Media training, refereeing and other jobs within football will also be available. I have been involved with the Jason Roberts Foundation for a few years now, and I am really proud to be asked to be involved in this project as well."
In addition to the launch evening being attended by several of the young players and volunteers who will hope to grace the Hyde League over the coming weeks, months and perhaps even years, several industry leaders were also at the event, not least Roberts who was enthusing about his unique project over the course of the evening, and for good reason. Other such members of the great and good lending their weight of backing at the Hilton included current West Ham United forward Michail Antonio, a Wandsworth boy made good who himself worked his way up the leagues to become an enterprising young Premier League player at a thriving team currently well ensconced in the top half of the top flight. As the kind of role model that Hyde League players can look up to and perhaps emulate, Antonio's presence at the launch event was highly welcome, and he himself was enthusing on the importance of the project. "It is great to be a part of this development league and I can really see how it can work. It's going to be exciting and I cannot wait to see how it will develop". Antonio's words will surely be echoed by all close to this remarkable set-up, and the Hyde Development League may well provide his club and others in the Premier League with fresh new talent over the coming years.
AtTheMatch are proud to be involved in this project and to have the opportuntiy of giving young people a sporting chance.
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