Heroes honoured as Kick It Out concludes 'Season of Action'
Yaya Toure, Lincoln Moses, and Mohammed Jama were all honoured as Kick It Out hosted an evening celebrating the valuable contribution that grassroots teams and volunteers make to the landscape of football to conclude its second ‘Season of Action’.
The evening event took place in the Learning Zone inside Wembley Stadium, where Troy Townsend, Kick It Out’s Education and Development Manager, hosted an event dedicated to grassroots heroes across the country with three different awards.
The Laurie Cunningham award was named after the pioneering footballer, with his former West Bromwich Albion teammates Cyrille Regis and Brendon Batson reminiscing about their friend and former team-mate, and talked about their own journeys through football as young, black players.
Kick It Out chair Lord Herman Ouseley also shared his thoughts via video to the audience:
The award was given to Manchester City midfielder Yaya Touré. The Ivorian international was recognised following the proactive steps taken by Yaya after being racially abused in Russia. He recently joined FARE at the announcement of the anti-discrimination monitoring system at Wembley Stadium.
He also visited with Kick It Out staff in May to thank them for their work after he was racially abused on social media earlier this season.
Yaya said: “It’s an honour to receive this award. Challenging racism is vital and all of our responsibility. I am glad I can use my voice to speak for those who are not heard.
“I am particularly pleased to pick up this award, as it is named after Laurie Cunningham – a pioneer and great footballer!”
Two awards were handed out to a pair of individuals who have made an exceptional contribution away from the professional game. The Kick It Out Award recognises an exceptional contribution to grassroots and community activity in promoting equality and inclusion and through a tough selection process, AFC Wembley Chair Mohammed Jama was chosen as the award’s first winner.
Mohammed said: “I was stunned as I wasn’t expecting it. It’s difficult to accept an award as an individual when you know there’s an entire machine behind you that allows you to do what you do. We’ve got a huge group of volunteers who help every weekend and allow us to function.
“There is so much work that people do that goes unnoticed, so seeing that Kick It Out have put this event on and recognised us as part of this work is great.”
Mohammed worked closely with the late Trevor Hutton, who passed away last year. The award that bears his name was awarded posthumously to him in 2014 at Kick It Out’s Anniversary Dinner.
His son, Tajean, continues his work by presenting the 2015 award. Tajean addressed the audience to speak about the great work of his father and the support he had received from Kick It Out.
Tajean presented Lincoln Moses MBE with the award for his work at grassroots and community level in the Birmingham area. Lincoln spoke with great pride and honour at receiving the award from Kick It Out.
Lincoln said: “I’m just a figurehead, and for any award that I win, it is a win for the entire community.
“It’s important to have that sense of belonging and achievement and to have Kick It Out back you shows that it’s a reward from the highest level.
“Trevor was a close friend. A person I enjoyed spending time with. He was passionate and he wanted to see change, just like myself.”
Earlier in the day Kick It Out organised two five-a-side tournaments for young girls and boys, played at Powerleague in Brent which featured teams from London and Bradford.
Both tournaments were contested in the spirit of the game with the girls’ tournament being won by Limehouse while the boys’ tournament was won by Totteridge-based TPA. Queens Park Rangers coaches were also in attendance providing a training session to disabled young players on the Powerleague Astroturf.
Entertainment was also provided by Dan Magness, a football freestyler, who wowed the crowds with tricks and skills.
Dan said: “These events are brilliant. They help young people develop as footballers and people through making new friends.
“It’s been great to see them enjoy themselves as part of the tournament.”
With the day and evening closing our second successive ‘Season of Action’, Kick It Out’s Grassroots Football Development Officer Cory Hendricks-Jackman reflected on a successful day for the organisation: “Our focus this season has been on grassroots and community football, and we wanted a way to show our support and recognise the amazing work that thousands of people involved in what is a very important sector of the game.
“I thought it was telling that both Mohammed and Lincoln said that they were collecting their awards on behalf of their community, paying tribute to the work that they see and lead upon on a daily basis.
“In football everyone is different, and anyone can fit in. In recognising the work of individuals who bring communities together, we hope it will drive more people to really shout about what they do and highlight the good that our game does.”