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Off the streets and onto the pitch

PUBLISHED: 17:02 25 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:18 11 August 2010

TWO FOOTBALL fans who want to give kids in the borough something fun to do that doesn t cost the earth have set up their own league. It all started when Paul Griffin and Ozzy Minhas were out having a friendly kick about in the park on their lunch break o

TWO FOOTBALL fans who want to give kids in the borough something fun to do that doesn't cost the earth have set up their own league.

It all started when Paul Griffin and Ozzy Minhas were out having a friendly kick about in the park on their lunch break one day.

By the end of their lunch hour Paul and Ozzy had about 20 people playing with them.

"That's when I thought - this is great", said Paul. "Why don't kids have anywhere to go and just have a kick about?"

So Paul and Ozzy set about starting Street Soccer International which caters for all kinds of youngsters including those who might not be allowed to join other clubs.

Some are young offenders or have problems at school but they are all welcome to join the 11-a-side teams.

Paul, whose son attends Eastbury School in Barking, said: "I know a few kids who get into trouble at school and with the police.

"But they shouldn't be sidelined from playing because of it.

"Street soccer international aims to encourage these young people and give them something positive to do with their time."

A former professional footballer himself, Paul used to play for teams in America and has told his young teammates that if they show talent and work hard he will help them win a place with a club in the US.

Paul said: "I believe there is a club out there for every level of talent.

"People think that the UK is the only place to play professional football but they are wrong.

"There are so many up and coming countries like America, Pakistan and Australia where youngsters have a shot at playing for great teams."

At the moment Paul and Ozzy are bankrolling their project themselves but they are looking for support and funding.

Many of the young players cannot afford to pay a membership fee and Paul and Ozzy just ask that they contribute what they can.

Paul said: "We would love to get some sponsorship because I really want to make this work.

"The response we get from the youngsters has been brilliant. They absolutely love their practice sessions and matches."

Practice is held at Robert Clack School, Dagenham, on Monday and Friday evenings 7 - 9pm and 8 - 10pm and any-one is welcome to go along.

Street soccer international is based at Regus House in London Road, Barking.

For more information or to discuss sponsorship, you can contact Paul or Ozzy on 020 8214 1268.


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