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Young people are the winners as Tower Hamlets Youth Sport Foundation holds awards evening

By Emdad Rahman

Sports group Tower Hamlets Youth Sport Foundation (THYSF) welcomed an array of sporting stars as the charity celebrated the achievements and ambitions of fledgling sports stars in Tower Hamlets.

Cricketing great and Sri Lankan World T20 champion Kumar Sangakkara was the guest of honour. Sanga took a break from training to attend the awards and to inspire the next crop of cricketers. He said: “Whatever you choose, do it well. There is no substitute for hard work. Whether it is academic endeavours, or sporting endeavours. Whatever you do make sure you have a very good plan and a very good base and build and work on that to ensure you gain the best out of it.”

Football icon and Southampton Football club legend Mathew Le Tissier said: “I think our diverse and ethnic communities play a big role in how our football is shaped in the country and I believe that we will see some big names emerge from the domestic crop in the next few years.”

Perry Shakes Drayton was also a distinguished guest and she advised all young up and coming athletes: “You can have all the talent but it only takes you so far. To go the extra lengths you need to have desire and commitment. If you do that you’ll reap the rewards.”

Diver Peter Waterfield won Britain’s first Olympic diving medal for 44 years when he partnered Leon Taylor to silver at Athens in 2004 in the 10m synchro. The Commonwealth Games Gold and Silver medallist offered his own brand of inspiration: “It’s all about putting in that hard work and the results will come eventually. That’s the same for any youngster.”

London 2012 Olympian and Team GB volleyball star Rachel Laybourne also spoke about dreams and aspirations for young people in sport: “Actually I had I had to write as part of my year 10 yearbook where I would be in ten years’ time and I said I would play in the Olympic Games. It was like a time machine project and literally fifteen years later my dream came true. It is achievable if they train and believe in it.”

Seventeen year old weightlifter Mercy Brown is a GB international star in the making. Mercy is a Bishop Challoner pupil and is trained by the acclaimed George Manners. She won an award in her category and said: “I would like to thank my family, coach and friends for all their support.

“The dream for me is to represent Great Britain in the Olympics and I will be working non-stop to achieve this dream. It won’t be because of a lack of trying.”

Abdal Ahmed, Curriculum Manager At THSYF said: “The borough has a rich sporting history which has made a vital contribution to British sport. It’s been a gruelling year for many of the award winners and tonight has been a celebration of the outstanding achievements of our young people. THSYF is committed to building on the legacy of London 2012 and I’m certain that if we continue to support and nurture these young people then the future of British sport will continue to be very bright.” Chris Willets is the Foundation manager at THSYF. He said: “Sport enriches lives and brings communities together. Our team are in awe of the immense talent pool in the borough. We work in partnership with schools and our coaches experience at first hand the tenacity, skill and energy of the youth of Tower Hamlets. It’s our responsibility to harness this effectively. Our sponsors have been crucial and there support has been significant. We hope that they will continue to show faith in our abilities to enrich the lives of young people through sport.”

THYSF provides outstanding opportunities and support for young people in Tower Hamlets to reach their potential, realise their ambitions and develop personally through sport. The borough is the UK’s poorest community. Of our East London Borough’s children, 58% live in poverty and 80% of children are from families who have arrived in Britain from some of the most war-torn, disaster-ravished, poverty-stricken and politically oppressed regions of the world.

THSYF does not accept that the economic and cultural issues that put children at a distinct disadvantage compared to other young people in the UK should be prevalent in sport. The ethos is to teach values and shape social development through sport.

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