Hackney Downs Allstars get set for biggest game in the club's history
PUBLISHED: 12:43 12 February 2015 | UPDATED: 12:43 12 February 2015
Hackney Downs Allstars Under-11s are preparing for the biggest game in their history after reaching the AFA Sunday Youth Cup final.
The Allstars, who play in the East London & Essex Junior Football League, will face Enfield Town Youth next month hoping to lift their first major trophy – and they will have nothing to fear following an impressive 6-1 demolition of East Thurrock United in the last four.
Kevin Jarman’s side went into the semi-final with indifferent league form, but victories over Cheshunt League outfits Lea Valley and Percival Youth in earlier rounds gave Hackney belief they could stage another huge performance.
The Allstars recovered from conceding an early goal to blow away their opponents, as Abdi Shiekh, Joshua Gracia and two goals apiece for Araloyin Oshun and Dylan Mohammed sent them safely through to the final.
Hackney Downs’ co-founder Shiro Taylor-West told the Gazette of his pride in the huge strides being made by the fledgling club.
“We’ve only been going for three years but we’ve come a long way in that time,” said Taylor-West, who enjoyed playing spells at Fulham and Charlton as a trainee.
“We’ve now got seven teams ranging from ages six to 11 and, within the last year, 16 players were taken on by professional clubs.
“Arsenal, Tottenham, West Ham and Leyton Orient have all been to watch our players, and of the 16 picked up to attend their training sessions, eight are still in their development academies, so they’re doing really well. It means more scouts are coming along to our training sessions.”
The Allstars have recently been made a Charter Standard club, which will grant them further funding opportunities, but Taylor-West insists that the fundamental goal remains the same.
“Our priority is to keep delivering exciting and outstanding quality coaching,” added Taylor-West, a learning mentor and PE teacher at Clapton-based Daubeney Primary School.
“Keeping children off the streets of Hackney through encouraging fitness, development, progression, discipline, socialising and preaching respect is tantamount to on-field success.”
Hackney Downs Allstars FC train at the Petchey Academy, Shacklewell Lane, every Friday from 6pm-7.30pm and on Saturdays at Downs Park Road from 10am-11.30am, from Under-7 to Under-11 level).
All coaches and staff are DBS checked with FA level one and two badges and youth modules.