Hammers hopefuls inspire youngsters
PUBLISHED: 12:44 19 March 2013 | UPDATED: 12:44 19 March 2013
Trio present trophies at cup finals
West Ham United youngsters Rob Hall, Leo Chambers and Pelly Ruddock showed their support for local football by presenting trophies at the Barking & Dagenham Borough football finals at Rush Green.
Academy graduates Hall and Chambers and Ruddock, who joined the Hammers from non-league Boreham Wood in December 2001, watched the Year 9 and Year 12/13 finals before handing out medals to all four teams and cups to the winning captains.
Fittingly, both finals were won by Robert Clack School, whose teachers cater for the educational needs of West Ham’s Academy, providing lessons for the club’s promising youngsters in purpose-built classrooms at Rush Green.
Hall and Chambers shared their own memories of playing in school and Sunday League football with West Ham TV.
“I played for a team called SouthSide based in south London and we trained once a week and had a game every Sunday and that was it,” said Chambers. “Now, of course, we train every day and have games at weekends. At the time, it was very good to get along there with my friends.”
As Chambers was speaking, a Robert Clack player scored a late winner in the Year 12/13 final on the pitch behind him, sparking wild celebrations.
“As you can see, that is what it means to the lads! It’s a great time and experience to play for your Sunday League club or school and I enjoyed it greatly. It’s great for the lads and it was great for me when I was there.”
Hall has been with West Ham since the age of eight, but the 19-year-old can still remember playing for local team Aylesbury Town as a schoolboy.
He said: “I played for an Under-9s team for Aylesbury Town because my brother played for the same club two years above me. My Mum took me every Saturday and Sunday and I played with the younger team.
“You start somewhere and luckily I got spotted in one of the tournaments we played in. Like Leo says, it’s good for players to play in games like the Borough finals because it’s one of the biggest games of their careers so far. You start somewhere and you can only enjoy it.”
Hall said Ruddock’s example should serve as an inspiration to any youngster hoping to get scouted.
The midfielder came through the ranks at Boreham Wood, where he took part in the club’s successful PASE (Programme for Academic and Sporting Excellence) coaching scheme.
“Pelly has come in and done really well, considering he came to the club as a late call-up,” said Hall.
“He was 17 and at Boreham Wood and training hard and he has managed to get the breakthrough and he has pushed on from there.”
Academy operations manager Adam Raimes said hosting the finals at Rush Green was another example of West Ham’s commitment to supporting local football.
“We have got a fantastic partnership with Robert Clack, who managed to get five teams into the six finals,” said Raimes.
“The partnership we built with Robert Clack was paramount to our success in getting Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) Category One status.
“We have got classrooms at Rush Green where the full-time boys (the Under-15s) are educated and as a thank you to them we were more than happy to host the finals and give something back to one of our club’s local Boroughs.
“It’s fantastic that Rob, Leo and Pelly came down. It’s good for the schoolboys because it provides a little inspiration to succeed for them to receive their medals from players they have already seen playing for West Ham.”
Raimes also revealed that the club’s Academy scouts would be keeping a close eye on the finals to unearth any diamonds who have yet to be signed by professional clubs.
“A few of our Academy boys were playing in the finals for their schools and there were some boys from Dagenham & Redbridge, too, so a lot of them have been picked up, but there could be a few around there who haven’t been.
“Our head of recruitment has been having a look because it’s never too late to be spotted.”