The popular Millwall Premier League Kicks programme ended 2016 with a celebration finale with an end of year Futsal tournament at Bells Gardens Community Centre ball court in Peckham.

The life changing community development programme, that takes place for 48 weeks of the year throughout Southwark and Lewisham for young people aged from 8 to 19, is delivered in a variety of different settings such as local ball courts, estates, youth clubs and leisure centres. Football is the attraction but Millwall also recognise the importance to provide educational workshops, which may have a positive impact in the lives of local young people.

Last weekend provided an opportunity for local young people to showcase their footballing talent in a day packed out with fun and learning through an organized futsal tournament and educational workshops delivered by inspirational speaker Paul Hannaford who kindly took time out of his weekend to visit Peckham in South London.

Paul Hannaford, an inspirational life speaker who shares his personal journey with up to 10,000 young people a year, delivered hard hitting messages to the groups of young people in attendance. Detailing his early years as a prolific offender, drug addict, and gang member, Paul used images, videos, and physical scars to show his life experiences to all in front of him. Paul is a real life example of change, reinforcing his message across the country to thousands that a life of crime, drugs, and violence isn’t a positive or productive way to live your life. He spoke with the group about his experiences that have made him the man he is today, along with his physical memories that an earlier life of crime had inflicted upon him.

The futsal tournament involved three selected teams from the Millwall Premier League Kicks programme, with two teams coming from Cossall Park and Bells Gardens which are both based in Peckham and the third team coming from Goldsmiths Community Centre Ball Court in Lewisham. Local grassroots side, YFC Vista were also invited as special guests who have a focus on balancing Football and Futsal. YFC Vista went on to win the tournament displaying all the key fundamentals of futsal, playing a swift passing game throughout the day.

Futsal is an exciting, fast-paced small-sided football game that is widely played across the world and is officially recognized by both UEFA and FIFA. The nature of the game places a large emphasis on technical skill and ability in situations of high pressure, and is subsequently an excellent breeding ground for football competencies that can be translated into the 11-a-side format of the game. Many of the top world class footballers played Futsal in their youth and credit it with supporting their footballing development; players such as Pele, Zico, Ronaldinho, Neymar, Kaka, Lionel Messi to name but a few of the South American legends all played and enjoyed Futsal. Futsal has also helped players on the European stage Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco, Xavi, Fabregas amongst many others have played Futsal to develop their skills.

The day was a huge success in which the young people enjoyed an engaging yet fun afternoon.

Millwall’s Kicks Community Development Officer Gary Otim commented:

The idea behind today was to celebrate another year of community development work in Southwark and Lewisham through the Premier League Kicks programme. It’s been another great year and we thought with the holidays coming up it would be the perfect time for Paul to come down and to educate some of our young people on the potential dangers of crime and drugs. A massive thank you to Paul for dedicating time in his weekend.”

The Millwall Community Trust will continue to provide a wide range of weekly football sessions across the boroughs of Southwark and Lewisham starting in the first week of January 2017, including a new weekly Futsal session every Tuesday evening from 6-7:30pm for 12-15 year olds at the Millwall Lions Centre.

For more information about the Millwall Premier League Kicks programme, please call 020 7740 0503 or follow Millwall Premier League Kicks Twitter, @Millwall_Kicks