We see contact through sport as a vital means of breaking down cultural barriers and we support local voluntary groups that demonstrate long term commitment. Since 1994 numerous groups such as Millwall Albion Football Club, Tower Hamlets Schools Gymnastics & Dance Display Team, Sporting Bengal, Millwall Rugby Club, Docklands Dragons Judo Club, Ascension Eagles Cheerleaders and Bethnal Green United FC have benefited from our various programmes, donations and sponsorships. In 2015, 14 beneficiaries benefited from sports donations from the Canary Wharf Contractors fund.
Bethnal Green United Football Club – Canary Wharf have been sponsoring Bethnal Green United FC since 2007; a local football team who have been given semi-professional status. They are the current Middlesex County Premier League and League Cup champions and as a result are now qualified to participate in the FA Cup and the FA Vase preliminary rounds.
Tower Hamlets Schools Gymnastics & Dance Display Team – Since 1994, we have sponsored the Tower Hamlets Schools Gymnastics & Dance Display Team, which has represented the borough and the UK at various events around the world, including four World Gymnaestradas in Amsterdam, Berlin, Gothenburg and Lisbon. Over 1,000 children have benefited directly from coaching and performing, while thousands have enjoyed coaching weekends and workshops in Tower Hamlets and also abroad in countries such as China and Poland.
In 2002, Canary Wharf Group plc and the Team won the national Sportsmatch Award in the Ethnic Minority Sports category for the Eurathlon III Gymnastics and Dance Festival held in Cabot Hall in June 2002. The event, which involved several Inner-London schools as well as children and adults from Holland, Belgium and Poland, was sponsored by Canary Wharf Group and attracted 50% match funding from Sportsmatch. Participants were aged from 6 to 35 years old.
Millwall Albion Football Club – The original Millwall Albion FC dates back to the 1920s but was re-formed by a group of local fathers in 1994 to provide local children a safe environment to play football. They now have 11 junior teams and a senior team competing in various leagues and have given hundreds of children the opportunity to participate in football.
Bethnal Green “Sharks” Swimming Club – Formed in 1962 this club has swimmers competing at various levels from inter-club competitions to international championships. They have won a haul of medals and have a number of Gold medalists. We are pleased to sponsor this long running and hard working club.
Other key initiatives include:
Middlesex County Championships – We sponsored this one day event in May 2002 in partnership with Victoria Park Harriers & Tower Hamlets Athletic Club. This event has been running for many years but had hitherto never been held in Tower Hamlets. Canary Wharf Group plc were delighted to be able to support this programme. The venue was Mile End Stadium and over 500 athletes took part, including a huge number from the local borough. The event was so successful that it was extended to a two-day event, which we again sponsored in 2003.
Equipment on Loan Scheme – Tower Hamlets has many local football teams that organise their own amateur football coaching sessions. But unfortunately many of these groups do not have the privilege of accessing adequate training equipment. For instance in a normal training session between 15-20 young people will be sharing 1-2 footballs, no training bibs, cones or any other relevant equipment.
The purpose of this scheme was to provide local grass-root football teams with proper training equipment. Young people should have the opportunity to practise with adequate equipment to gain maximum benefit. We loaned our equipment to the following teams: Senrab FC (four teams); Quaystone FC; Old Ford Boys (two teams); Junior YMO (two teams); DETRA (two teams); St Mary’s; Junior BYM; Pobashi FC; Shiners Youth; Cityside Youth Project; New Generation Youth Club; FC Panther; Globe Town; FC Mile End; Whitechapel FC (two teams).
Youth Football Academy – None of our young people however talented or fortunate, are entirely safe from menaces such as drugs, gang violence, academic failure and other social problems of our time. This programme was designed to overcome some of these issues by challenging the talented youngsters and to engage them through constructive practise and character building activities.
Launched by Canary Wharf in December 2001, the programme invited local clubs to put forward their best 12-16 year old players for a 10-week course of intensive training with a professional coach, culminating in a series of exhibition matches performed before scouts from some of the UK’s top football academies. The coaching scheme was held three times a year and was another groundbreaking initiative that received national recognition. Nine professional clubs used our scheme as a feeder for their own youth academies. From our first two coaching schemes we had three youths on trial with Charlton FC, one at Wimbledon and one with QPR. In January 2003 we extended this project into the Thames Gateway area.
In 2004 a further 6 youths were signed up to the following professional clubs; Tottenham, Charlton, Arsenal. Leyton Orient, Millwall and West Ham United. In addition to this a further 5 players are on trials with 3 professional clubs; Millwall, Arsenal, and Leyton Orient.
The Bangladesh Youth Football Academy – Canary Wharf Group plc identified the need to set up a Youth Academy in Bangladesh so that young players from all different social, religious and economic backgrounds were given the chance to receive top quality coaching and try out for professional clubs. It was launched in August 2006 and over 6000 young footballers aged 12-14 years old attended the initial trials. This was whittled down to 158 youngsters and from this a group of 35 boys were selected for the final programme.
The boys visited the UK in October 2008 where the young players tested themselves in games against West Ham United and Dagenham & Redbridge’s U15 squads plus received coaching sessions with The David Beckham Academy and West Ham United’s Football in the Community team. They were also given a special behind the scenes tour of Wembley and the chance to get up close to the FA Cup.
The programme has proved to be a huge success with 12 of the boys being selected to represent the national squad U16’s and the remaining players signed up by professional clubs. After 4 years of financial and organisational support from us, the Academy is now seen as a model for the future development of football across the country.
We were very grateful for the invaluable support given by Emirates, Clifton Group, The David Beckham Academy, Anwar Uddin – Official Ambassador of the Academy and Captain of Dagenham and Redbridge FC, Anthony Ferguson and Barry Todd – our two English based coaches.
Annual Sports Personality of the Year Awards – These Awards, held at East Wintergarden, are another unique initiative, which highlights the achievements and successes of local people at various sports. Tower Hamlets has a wealth of sporting talent and dedicated volunteers and we have been delighted to provide the opportunity to give these people, young and old the full recognition they deserve. Stars such as Paul Merson, Tony Cottee, John Regis, Marlon Devonish and Carlton Cole have all presented the awards. Canary Wharf Group plc, as formal recognition of the outstanding contribution to sport in Tower Hamlets, created these annual awards in 2001 for its young people and their leaders.
East London Summer Football League – Young people from our communities have limited options and sporting opportunities available to them during the summer holidays, hence we established the East London Summer Football League; this programme offers young people from our diverse communities to be involved in a challenging and competitive activity each week during the summer break. Participating teams have included; CAG FC, Beaumont Athletic FC, Global Youth Development FC, Elite Youth FC, Millwall Albion FC, Osmani FC, Wanstead FC, Bethnal Green United FC, London Apsa, Alpha Grove FC, E7 FC, Newark Youth and Locksley FC to name but a few.
Annual Summer Sports Programme – Every year Canary Wharf Group sponsor and co-ordinates a Summer Sports Programme which include a variety of different sports to engage the local community and provide youngsters with things to do during the summer. Working in partnership with a number of different clubs across the borough the programme will usually run from May to September and the type of sport will differ slightly for each year. Past sports have included table tennis, tae kwondo, football, rugby, watersports, basketball, baseball, judo, swimming, athletics and cricket. Our programme is now in its second decade and 2015 saw more than 3,400 participants in 15 different sports.
ONE Ball. ONE Game. ONE Community – This football event first took place in 2008 and was organised by CWG plc in partnership with West Ham United FC and the Metropolitan Police. The aim was to promote and build links between Asians and the Met Police and to encourage young girls to keep active.
The event consisted of a girls 5 a-side tournament involving 170 young girls from schools in Tower Hamlets, Newham, Hackney and Redbridge; a match between a Community Side of CWG plc employees, councillors, community leaders, MP’s and Borough Commanders, and a Legends Team of ex professional players such as Tony Woodcock and Chris Whyte with the main event; the Met Police vs an Asian Select XI. Sir Trevor Brooking also attended. It was such a success that it is now an annual event with both boys and girls involved. The FA was involved in 2009 and in total 260 children participated in the 5 a-side tournament and there was an additional match where the Met Police Ladies tested themselves against Tower Hamlets Womens FC.
Since the sports development department was established, Canary Wharf Group have sponsored and organised numerous sporting events and schemes, some of the highlights are listed below;
- An exhibition match between Selected Asian X1 v Barking & East Ham FC – A game that resulted in two of the Asian players being selected for pre-season training by Barking and East Ham.
- Twenty – 20 Cricket Competition – CWG plc organised and sponsored this event in association with the Vallance Community Sports Association. The aim of the competition was to promote cricket in the local community and encourage more youngsters to take up this sport. Participating teams; Boundary Cricket Club, City Cricket Club, Millwall Cricket Club and Vallance Cricket Club.