Brent Council axes funding for the borough's London Youth Games team
PUBLISHED: 17:10 04 March 2015 | UPDATED: 18:06 04 March 2015
Brent may be the home of English Football Association but the borough won’t be a sending a team to take part in the Balfour Beatty London Youth Games.
As the largest sports festival in Europe it has been an annual fixture in the lives of the borough’s young people.
However, Brent Council has axed the £24,800 funding for the team which covered its entry fee, training trials, team managers, transport to the events and other costs, resulting it being unable to participate this year.
The team would take part in a range of sports including football, swimming, tennis and badminton.
The borough’s 2009football team, which also won the tournament that year, featured Raheem Sterling as their captain before he went on to become a player for Liverpool and England.
The 20-year-old, who grew up in the St Raphael’s Estate in Neasden, and attended Copland Community School in Wembley, was heralded for his skills during last year’s World Cup.
Keith Gussy Young, secretary of the Brent School’s Football Association, who coaches young people in the borough, has been a part of the games for 13 years.
He said: “All of the children will be disappointed by this. It’s alike an Olympics for them where they can meet other boroughs.
“Every year we play for it and we’ve just found out Brent won’t be entering at all, not just in football but in everything sport.
“Everyone’s disappointed but we don’t know how to get round it. We want to enter a football team in there but don’t know how.
“Every year we get in the quarter finals, semi finals and in big games the top three and this year again, we have a strong team.”
Tajean Hutton, from the Community Football Federation, an organisation that supports grassroots football in the community, said: “It’s a huge loss.
“The youth games introduced huge stars like Raheem Sterling. Now the children have got nothing to look forward to apart from the grassroots football clubs.”
He added: “Within Brent the talent is unlimited. Young people have the ability to make it to professional level but it’s not going to happen unless we get that platform to showcase their talents.
“It’s like taking the Mobos away from UK music artists. They won’t fully understand the impact it will have on them.”
Cllr James Denselow, Brent Council’s cabinet member for stronger communities, and a keen marathon runner, said the funding was axed as part of the council’s £54ms budget cuts.
He said: “It is disappointing, and I share the disappointment and frustration of many of our young people who excel at sport and who were keen to represent the borough at a regional level, but this is unfortunately the reality of the situation that we are in.
“However, despite the cuts in funding, we remain committed in doing everything we can to provide as many different sporting opportunities as possible for our young people through local sports clubs and leisure centres.”