Football festivals are common place, but one event that took place in West London was unique and through the power of sport brought two communities together.
On a bright mild Saturday morning in December a festival of football took place at the superb Indian Gymkhana in West London. A series of friendly matches were delivered for age groups from under 8s through to under 16s, with 100+ young players enjoying the competition.
The Indian Gymkhana Club celebrated its centenary year in 2016 and is the largest and longest-standing multiracial Sports Club in the United Kingdom. It has a rich history and is well respected, for competing in various sports and developing talented sports men and women along the way. It can attract 500 sports men and women from the mainly Sikh and Hindu communities each weekend.
Fifteen miles away in North London, the Stanmore Jafferys sports department plan and deliver a range of sports for its Muslim community. Recently their focus has been the creation of a brand new football academy for their youth. The Academy train every weekend and are looking to develop their players further by arranging friendly matches.
Indian Gymkhana and Stanmore Jaffreys were introduced through Sporting Equals and together began to plan a festival of football to be hosted at the superb Indian Gymkhana venue. A series of friendly fixtures were completed in a hugely positive environment.
Football brought the three faiths together and as a result players developed new respect and friendships with players from other communities. Matches were all competitive and coaches and parents were all delighted with the outcome.
The groups are now planning an annual event and exploring how to introduce a community awareness element into further events.
Parminder Gill from the Indian Gymkhana said
“It was a fantastic football festival. Stanmore Jafferys coaches and players are a credit to their organisation. Playing football the correct way and being positive in their comments to the children regardless of what team they were on. We look forward to having a positive long term relationship”.
Shafique Govani from the Stanmore Jaffreys added,
“On behalf of Stanmore Jafferys I would like to extend our sincere appreciation for today's fantastic arrangement and event. It was indeed an honour and pleasure to attend as your guests and receive the hospitality par excellence. The arrangement was spot on from start to end and whilst you mentioned my name at the beginning, credit goes to you and your team for the planning and its execution. Your touch with the medals was well received and all our kids will be extending their prayers for you.
The games were very balanced and played in a very positive spirit. You have some fine talent in your young squads and we hope they are successful in their careers. Your set up and facilities are impressive to say the least and a role model for the Asian communities across UK. Looking forward to future bilateral arrangements and next time we will meet up in Stanmore”.
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