Hackney Marshes hosts Inner City World Cup again

The Poland team celebrate victory in a group match at the Inner City World Cup

The Poland team celebrate victory in a group match at the Inner City World Cup - Credit: Archant

London’s very own World Cup is returning to its spiritual home next month, as Hackney gears up for an unforgettable festival of football.

Hackney Marshes will host the Inner City World Cup over the Bank Holiday weekend (May 23-24), with 32 countries from across the globe represented at the the tournament.

The event was founded in 1994 by Mark Abery, the owner of Cup Promotions – the company behind The Music Industry Soccer Six, the biggest global celebrity six-a-side football tournament.

Abery hoped to bring communities together through the beautiful game, irrespective of race, religion, nationality, age, ability or gender.

With 700 players from multi-cultural inner-city communities watched by over 3,000 spectators daily at last year’s event, it’s fair to say he’s had his dreams fulfilled.

“It all began in Wanstead Flats 21 years ago,” Abery told the Gazette. “After travelling all around London, we wanted to bring it back to Hackney, where we believe it should be.

“We’ve got a lot of adult men’s multi-ethnic teams from around London coming along, representing teams from places like Colombia, Sierra Leone, France and Ethiopia.

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“There’ll also be teams from the Under-sevens right through to the Under-17s. We want as many kids there as possible, as they’ll get to see some international adult football being played, albeit amateur, and it’d be good to bring these people together.”

Sierra Leone have won the adult tournament five times, with Ghana and England also boasting two titles, and Abery is determined for Hackney residents to take advantage of the football on their front lawn.

Twenty-one years after setting the wheels in motion, he is as committed as ever, adding: “We need recruitment of the younger age groups in order to really make it a success. Should it be so, we’d like to do an Inner City Euros next May, alongside an event for countries from other continents.

“There are other boroughs who want to host this fantastic tournament.

“But we really love it in Hackney and this is where we’d ideally like it to be played.”

Entrance to the East Marsh football pitches is free on both days of the tournament, with a pass to ‘The Heart’, a hive of food and football-themed fun and games, priced at £5.

There’s still time to enter a five-a-side team for the youth tournament, for age groups seven to 16. Visit www.cup.uk.com/lovefootball for details.

All tickets and sign-up information can be found at www.lovefootball.eventbrite.com

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