Soccer girls to make West Ham debuts

Girls from three Jewish primary schools are set to play at West Ham’s Upton Park stadium on Monday at an interfaith soccer tournament.

The Simon Marks, Ilford Jewish Primary and Clore Tikva pupils will be lining up alongside Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Hindu girls from East End schools.

The event is the initiative of the National Association of Muslim Police (NAMP) and the Board of Deputies-backed Shared Futures project to link schools of different faiths. The Football Association is among its other supporters.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for people to come together,” said the NAMP’s Dal Babu. “For the first time we’ll have a Premier League ground.”

West Ham legend Sir Trevor Brooking will MC the tournament and other events in a day celebrating diversity includes the appearance of a celebrity XI featuring old England stars Tony Woodcock and Viv Anderson.

“It is taken three years to come to this stage,” said Mr Babu, who is “passionate about using football as a link to develop social cohesion.

“Originally, the plan was to have a game that would bring Jewish and Muslim football players together. The event has become more significant than we planned.”

Alex Goldberg, the Board’s community issues director, said that if Monday’s format was successful, “we can export it.

“We’re looking at working with the FA and large clubs in Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.”

    Last updated: 3:35pm, September 22 2009