Brent Super Cup Tournament: Victorious teams emerge at family friendly tournament themed with mental health awareness
PUBLISHED: 09:49 08 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:51 10 May 2019
"Carry a ball not a blade" was the message at a children's sports tournament in Brent which saw teams shine.
More than 250 young footballers competed for the Brent Super Cup which took place at Ark Elvin Academy on Saturday.
Wembley's LNER Youth FC lifted the trophy for the U10s and London Bees Queen Park's squad won for the U12 girls.
England star Raheem Sterling's former club AFC Wembley narrowly beat Brent Showkase Ballers 1-0 in the Boys U12 final retaining last year's trophy.
The project, now it is third year and supported by the Brent & Kilburn Times, was founded by former Stonebridge councillor Zaffar Van Kalwala, who always includes a theme - this year was on children's mental health.
In 2017, 30 children competed but on Saturday about 300 children representing 21 teams turned up to play.
Activities included Queens Park Rangers' skillszone for young players to test out their footballing talents in between matches.
London Bees coach Nathan Grandison, said of their win: "They've done really well, I didn't really do anything."
Runner up girl's team Queen's Park Sharks won Brent & Kilburn (BK) Times Team of the Tournament award.
Mary Frances Byrne, the only female FA national league Futsal referee in Middlesex, said: "I'm pleased to see girls taking part and everybody enjoying the beautiful game and well done to all the specatators for applauding [the teams]. That's very important."
A nurse by profession, she added: "If I had a message today it would be 'carry a ball not a blade'. I've had to sit and tell teenagers that their friend is dead. It's no fun." She also donated her fee to the community project.
LNER's winning goal keeper Michael Johnson, 10, also won man of the match. "I feel great and happy for my team," he said.
Under 10s runners up Ava Academy lost on penalties so were delighted to win the BK Times Team of the Tournament award.
Striker Bogdan Tarcatu, 10, said: "It feels very nice that we won it. I feel next time we can win Team of the Tournament and the big cup."
Alex Vancea, seven, added: "I feel pretty good but at the same time a bit sad because we didn't win the final."
Preston Road's New Generation, who lost in a tense final to AFC Wembley, won the BK Team of the Tournament in their category.
It was the first time coach and owner Antonio Banu had entered his team, which he set up nine months ago. I loved the project against knife crime. We can make a change if we invest in our kids.
"We give those who are talented the chance but we also teach the others to be positive. It gives both groups the opportunity to be in a safe environment, make friends, socialise, think positive and have dreams."
Local health group Brent Young People Thrive provided a range of advice and fun activities on the day to help challenge the stigma around mental health.
Rae Tarbox, 16, mental health champion for the project, and Brent Youth Parliament member, said: "We're talking to parents about starting a conversation with their children. There's still a stigma attached to mental health, young people don't like talking about if they go to therapy, they don't call to say they feel down. Some people are more positive when talking about their experiences and the spectrum is widening but there are still a lot of people not comfortable with it."
Zoe Kattah, project lead, said: "We need to do more work in the community. Last year we tried it in schools but this year we are going to focus on the wider community and hard to reach people."
Mr Van Kalwala added: "Congratulations to all the winning teams and to everyone who took part.
"The Brent Super Cup not only helps young people with their own health and wellbeing, but also develops skills and brings communities together. Initiatives like this are desperately needed in the borough, especially as children's facilities are being decimated because of funding cuts. It's so important we invest in our children and help improve the quality of life for young people in Brent."
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The event was sponsored by John Sisk & Son Construction. Lucien Geria, site manager, said: "We're doing a lot in the community so it's an opportunity for us to give something back.It's amazing to see so many kids happy." Colleague Bogban Olenici, added: "I'm impressed by the amount of kids who have been playing - loads, loads of them!"