West Ham United first team players headed to Beckton this week as Lycamobile and the West Ham United Foundation came together to launch the 2017 Lycamobile Cup at an event celebrating five years of the community youth football competition.
The opening tournament – the first of four qualifying rounds – took place yat West Ham’s community hub in Beckton, and was attended by Adrian, Arthur Masuaku and Sam Byram as well as rising stars from the West Ham United Academy including Domingos Quina, Nathan Holland, Toni Martinez, Grady Diangana and Moses Makasi, who acted as referees.
The Lycamobile Cup involves 80 teams and over 640 young players from local secondary schools and community centres, who compete in a series of tournaments over the course of the season. The Cup is split across two categories – under 12 (year 7) and under 14 (year 9).
West Ham Academy winger Nathan Holland, who attended the launch event and spoke with participating teams, said: “It was fantastic to watch the games unfold at the first-round tournament and to see the quality of football on show. It’s really important for us to support initiatives like the Lycamobile Cup which bring together the local community and showcase young football talent.”
The remaining heats of the Lycamobile Cup are scheduled for venues including Chobham Academy in East Village at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and Barking Abbey School in Barking, culminating in an exciting finals day in April 2018. Finalists will enjoy the opportunity of a lifetime to play in West Ham’s home ground, London Stadium.
The 2017/2018 season marks the fifth year of the Lycamobile Cup, which forms part of the longstanding partnership between Lycamobile, the world’s largest international mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) and West Ham United. Since its inaugural year in 2013/2014, the Cup has played an important role in the local community, celebrating the next generation of footballing talent from across the area and encouraging youngsters to achieve their goals.
Subaskaran Allirajah, Chairman of Lyca Group, commented: “We are delighted to launch the 2017/2018 Lycamobile Cup and to celebrate five successful years of the competition. Having watched young, talented footballers take part in the Lycamobile Cup over the past five years, I’ve witnessed first-hand how the power of sport can bring together communities, and inspire young people to follow their ambitions.”
West Ham United Foundation Chief Executive, Joseph Lyons, said: “Following another successful Lycamobile Cup last season, I am delighted to continue our partnership with Lycamobile once more this year.
The Cup is a fantastic opportunity for local young people, and with the added support from our Academy this year, I am sure it is going to be a brilliant tournament.”
Last year (2016/17), Great Baddow High School in Essex, and St Mary Magdalene Academy in Islington, won the under 14 and under 12 categories, respectively. In July, the winning teams enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime training session at the first-team training ground, where they also met some of their favourite players for a photoshoot, selfies and autographs.