Mariappa applauds community contribution
Watford defender Adrian Mariappa paid tribute to the club’s community work at One GameWatford, a grassroots forum held in conjunction with Kick It Out, on Monday night.
The evening, hosted by the Hornets’ Community Sports & Education Trust, along with Herts and Middlesex FA, was designed to assist amateur clubs with funding, volunteering and running football activities.
Vice-captain Mariappa addressed questions as part of a panel discussion including team-mate Piero Mingoia, Hornets legend Ian Bolton and former England international and Kick It Out representative Earl Barrett, from an audience of local football supporters.
“As long as I can remember, Watford has always been a family club.
“It has always played its part in the community and these types of events are very important, because at the end of the day, grassroots football is where it all begins,” said Mariappa, who began his career at Watford’s Academy aged 12.
With several academy graduates making their first-team bow this season, 24-year-old Mariappa is one of the more experienced members of an extremely young squad, something he believes pays testament to the youth system in place.
The Harrow-born star said: “We’ve always had a reputation as a club that brings its youth through. The academy at Watford is exemplary and acts as a model for other clubs up and down the country. It is great to see that the work put into the academy is paying dividends now.”
He continued: “I am incredibly proud to be a product of the youth system in place here.
“There is a lot of us who have come through the academy and in our FA Cup game with Hartlepool a couple of weeks back, there was seven lads starting the match who had been with the club since they were kids. It’s fantastic to be part of it for all of us.”
Earl, who had an illustrious career in which he played for clubs such as Manchester City, Everton and Aston Villa, now leads Kick It Out’s mentoring and leadership project.
He said: “I have attended and taken part in grassroots forums at several of my former clubs and was incredibly impressed by the set-up at Watford. It is clear how large a part the club plays in the community and long may this continue.”