Saturday, July 16, 2016

Lennox Lewis: “Winning the Olympic gold medal was the greatest moment of my career”

By Emdad Rahman

In the run up to the Olympic Games, Lennox Lewis, the last boxer to be undisputed heavyweight has spoken of his proudest career moment.  ‘It has to be when I won the Olympics, I would say that. Yes, winning the Olympic gold medal was the greatest moment of my career, because I wanted to win the Olympics for so long. I had to actually go to two Olympics to win one Olympic Gold.’

Lewis beat Evander Holyfield in 1999 to join the likes of Muhammad Ali as undisputed world heavyweight boxing champions. He is in London and will be a key feature at SENI 2016 - The Strength And Combat Show, hosted by Bellator MMA and Fighters Inc. ‘I’m excited about it. There are a lot of exciting fighters out there who people don’t know about. They will take notice after this. They should come. If they haven’t watched MMA before then they should definitely come to The O2 to experience this event.

‘I’m a fighter and I love to watch fighting and MMA kind of gives me what I need s I’m going to be there. I’m going to enjoy talking to my fans and taking pictures with them. I’m looking forward to it.’

The 50 year old boxing legend is happy that David Haye has stepped back into the ring. ‘His speed is phenomenal and he is a showman – That’s some combination. You can’t write the Hayemaker off. I think the fact that he’s fighting Shannon Briggs is a good fight because Shannon Briggs needs to be fought. He’s talked himself into a fight and I think that’s a good fight for david Haye.

‘Obviously after that one he needs to step it up a little bit. Everybody wants to see him against Anthony Joshua. Everybody wants to see him against Tyson Fury. These guys don’t really have to go far. They don’t have to go over the water to challenge each other. everybody lives in England, so hopefully we’ll see some great fights in the future.’

Lewis reiterated his views on Tyson Fury. ‘He has technique, he is fast. His movement reminds me of Muhammad Ali – ‘he floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. That’s great boxing for you.’

Lewis was the last boxer to hold the WBC, IBF and WBA titles at once and retired as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. He feels that there is a worthy candidate to take over his mantle. ‘Anthony Joshua looks real good. He is winning comfortably and is in a great position to create boxing history. 17 fights with 17 KO’s makes it possible for him.’

With the added bonus of the interview taking place at the ‘I am Ali’ exhibition at the O2 all that remained was to ask Lewis about his thoughts on the passing of the greatest boxer to have ever stepped into a ring. He said: ‘It was a privilege and an honour to lay ‘The Greatest’ to rest and you know for me, I was sad we lost a great man that did so much, not just in the boxing world, but in life. Muhammad Ali was the father of boxing and he will always be remembered and revered. There will always be ne Muhammad Ali and his extraordinary legacy will live on for generations.’

SENI – The Combat & Strength show is the original and still the largest fighting arts event in the world and is set across the entire O2 venue on 15th and 16thJuly 2016.

The event will take place in all of the venue official spaces such as The Piazza, indigo at The O2, Building 6, Brooklyn Bowl and Water Margin.
Saturday 16th July 2016 – 10am to 7pm(last entry 6pm)Sunday 17th July 2016 – 10am to 5pm(last entry 4pm)

Event Info:

On sale: Fri, 22 Apr 2016 - 09:00 BST
Ticket Options:

Saturday Day Pass AM (
10am – 2.30pm)
Saturday Day Pass PM (
2.30pm – 7pm)
Sunday Day Pass AM (
10am – 1.30pm)
Sunday Day Pass PM (
1.30pm – 5pm)

Customers will be required to exchange their ticket for a wristband on arrival at the venue. #TheCombatAndStrengthShow

Sunday, July 10, 2016

My Nine In A Row - The Vitality British 10k 2016

By Emdad Rahman: It's that time of the year when we run the world's greatest route. It's one of my favourite races and I never train for it. Although the Limehouse Festival Run last week was a good warm up. 

I left home about 8.30. All my stuff had been prepared the night before. This is unusual for me as I usually just panic in the morning, looking for my race top, missing trainers etc. I decided not to take a bag and just go as I was. It's less hassle. 

At Monument I had a sudden funny feeling and a horrible sensation in my stomach thinking I had got the day wrong (Trust, it's happened many times before). There were no other runners on my carriage and I couldn't see any kits in the adjoining ones. Creepier still, I realised I had not spotted a single dressed up runner on the train or subsequent platforms since I had got on at Barking. Internet was slow so I resorted to measured breaths to stop choking. Suddenly The Whitechapel Mission British 10k Facebook page cropped up. It confirmed I was going - Phew! 

The haunting effect continued for at least a quarter mile from Embankment Station. There were no runners outside but there were stewards there. A short walk on and normal service resumed as I mixed in with the rather large crowd. 

I met Chloe as I was hurriedly making my to the start. I always seek inspiration from the lives of fellow humans and here was a cracker. Chloe is blind and she was running for London Youth. Wow! Just wow! We took a selfie and I told her she was amazing. Chloe is a case in point when it comes to describing the human spirit and I'm pretty sure there will be thousands inspired by her today. 

We all had one cause - To raise money for charitable causes. Cheered on by packed out street crowds, runners began on Piccadilly outside The Cavalry & Guards Club on Hyde Park corner, and made their way past some of London's most iconic landmarks, including the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

Participants then touched Trafalgar Square, before Charing Cross Road. The City part of the route took in Temple Place and the westbound section of the Embankment before turning onto Westminster Bridge.

A u-turn in front of the South Bank Lion Statue granted runners the spectacular backdrop of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. A loop of Parliament Square led onto the finish line on Whitehall.

For me, the weather was superb - spitting rain and cool - perfect running conditions. I have been running the British 10k in Ramadan and today was the first time in four years that I have had breakfast or water whilst doing the run. I preferred the fasting in a funny kind of way. I ran faster and today I actually needed a loo break on the Embankment. The hygiene in those Porta Loos is utterly medieval. 

As always, I ran for The Whitechapel Mission. If you'd like to support the magnificent work of Sue and Tony, Ramesh and volunteer Billy with homeless guests then have a look at the website and sign up for a Breakfast Challenge

Other charities represented at The British 10k included Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity, Human Care Syria, Centrepoint, Barts Cancer Institute, The Alzheimers Society, Tommy's, Epilepsy Research, National Eczema Society and London Youth. 

This is my #NineInARow and I'm raring to make it 10 next year. I'm counting on the support of friends and family to achieve this milestone. 

Lastly, a massive thank you to my friends for their support; Shanaz, fellow runner Shelim, Muzzammil, Terree, Mumtaz, Naz, Ann, Lynny, Jahanara, Nishat, Mo, my oldest mate G and my cuz Tabz. You guys are simply delicious!

Vitality British 10k London Run winners

Wheelchair race winner - Gary Cooper 

Women's winners:
1. Hannah Walker, 35:28
2. Rachel Felton, 35:43
3. Alison Lavender, 36:05 

Men's winners:
1. Paul Whittaker, 32:32
2. Peter Tucker, 34:05
3. Matthew Wiersum, 34:22  

#British10k #RunTheCapital #RunLDN

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Community unite to remember 7/7

A whole host of community activists joined community education group The Gift of Knowledge (GOK) at Aldgate Underground Station. Roses were handed out to commuters as a sign of peace, unity and unconditional  love. 

Female scholar Selina Begum Ali, founder of Heart 2 Heart, an initiative of GFK said, 'As Muslims we want to take this opportunity to show we care and we are one community. Terrorists have no place in our lives whatsoever.’

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs attended the event. He said: 'We strongly feel the need to show our solidarity and stand shoulder to shoulder with those who lost their loved ones.'
Tim Clacton from St George In The East Church said, 'It makes me immensely proud to join my brothers and sisters today in remembrance. I had someone very dear to me who just avoided travelling on that fateful train that day. This is truly reflective of our community.’

Event convenor and community champion Khoyrul Shaheed said: 'We pray and hope that our displays of humanity and heart to heart encounters will unite us further and give us the strength to reject those who seek to break us.' 

Former Tower Councillor Abdal Ullah said, 'We are in this together.’

Abul Hyat Nurujjaman, Director of the British Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BBCCI), Chairman of Taj Accountants said, 'We have always been one community. It has been a pleasure to take time out today and join all these wonderful people in remembrance. We will not allow ourselves to be disunited.’

Aldgate Station manager Mike Smith said, 'We are proud to join with our local community in remembering those we lost on that tragic day.’

Emdad Rahman said, 'We are all victims of what happened 11 years ago. London is the greatest city in the world and I'm so proud how fellow Londoners of all denominations have supported each other with genuine love and zero prejudice.’

An immaculately observed minutes silence was held to remember all the lives lost on that tragic day. 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan attended a memorial service in Hyde Park. The Mayor vowed to do “everything possible” to protect against another terrorist attack. He said, '11 years on, we must never forget those who lost their lives on 7/7, and the unity we showed as Londoners.'

Saturday, July 02, 2016

One Third soup kitchen round off Ramadan

Emdad Rahman: The One Third soup kitchen team finished the last shift of Ramadan 2016 with a biriani belter at Stratford City. Tonight's team consisted of a mix of adults and kiddos all determined to serve their community. 

Homeless citizens are no different you any of us. It's not choice but circumstances which puts them in such dark places. I mean what sadist would go out intentionally to sleep rough or in a hostel? They deserve the same respect and dignity as any other fellow being. 

The kids were briefed on etiquette and each one was on top form, serving, smiling and chatting to our homeless guests. We had a Police officer join us for a bit whilst he was waiting to be picked up by his colleagues. With Germany playing Italy in the Euros the town centre was bustling and it made sense to have the visible presence of the boys and girls in blue amongst us. 

The delicious biriani was gone within the hour. Well the punters said it was delicious. We couldn't sample evens teeny morsel because everyone was fasting and there was none to take away. That's how good it was. 

The food was provided by my Chach Moklis and his family on behalf of their deceased father. He was a true soul and his legacy lives on amongst his children and grandchildren. I should know - my family have had the good fortune of three generations of mingling with these rascals.

Our regulars were there. Rosie took extras and the Eastern Europeans were very friendly with the kids. We did miss the bubbly Amanda tonight. Bully said he hadn't seen her for a while and we hope she's good. 

Thanks to Abdullah, Talha, Zainab, Ayesha, Amina, Hamza and Aunty Dil for the cracking support.

If you see a homeless person next time you're out then please buy them a bottle of water, or a coffee or a sandwich. Smile and talk to them for just one minute. You'll fill their day with sunshine. 

If you'd like to help me on a shift then you can message me on Twitter @emdad07

Monday, June 20, 2016

All change England get second place

Slovakia 0-0 England

There was a gaffer called Roy
With Slovakia he changed his ploy
He took Wilshere to France
Drinkwater stood no chance
With the return of golden boy

Stade Geoffrey Guichard, Saint-Etienne

20 06 16

Welsh Dragons win Group B

Russia 0-3 Wales

Coming into this game in Toulouse
Russia had won the last three
All fears are duly banished
When the ball falls to Aaron Ramsey

It was a 66 World Cup qualifier
Wales last beat the USSR
Two goals to one for the Dragons
Ivor Allchurch with a late clincher

Chris Coleman is in dreamland
His proud nation is loud and merry
Bale deflects for Taylor to score
With two bites of that cherry

In Welsh Pirlo Joe Allen Xavi
There's more woe for Leonid Slutsky
Bale makes it a resounding three
Left foot finish from Ramsey

Stadium de Toulouse

20 06 16

© emdad rahman

Saturday, June 18, 2016

One Third Soup Kitchen bring in the kids

Tonight at Booth House I was joined by youth from the Splash Life Skills Project - Better known as Amzy's Angels. 
They were total stars the lot of them and straight after my briefing finished each took to their roles like ducks to water. 
'They're like Angels, they don't judge and I don't feel bad or embarrassed looking them in the eye when they give me food,' said Sharon, one of our homeless guests. 
She's right is our Shazza. Young people are easiest to work with - they're not prejudiced and rarely have hang ups. They get on with it. They don't stare. These kids chose to be here and it was really interesting to watch them. They were polite, full of beans, smiled and engaged in banter with ever homeless guest who graced us with their presence tonight. All I could do was tell them they were amazing and had done so much to break down barriers, misconceptions and stereotypes. 
Anyway, I met a Rangers and Celtic fan tonight. With me wearing the famous hoops it wasn't difficult I guess. We had a chat about the season ahead and how Rangers presence back in the top flight will liven things in the Scottish Premiership. 
The biriani was gone in no time and the youngsters served juice, soft drinks and cakes. We are all very grateful to Emma Coles for the delicious cup cakes. If I hadn't been fasting I would have caved in and devoured one pronto. 
Thank you Jamie, Tahmina, Shahel, Niyaz, Mahib, Sadi, Abid and Hamza for your fantastic help tonight. A special one is reserved for my compadre Amrana for arranging all the food. 
If you'd like to support us in person or by providing good for a shift then please get in touch - Twitter @emdad07

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Lions and Dragons

England 2-1 Wales

Showtime in Lens
No doubt a treasured tale
England boss the first half
Then fall behind to Bale

It's kitchen sink time
Roy goes mental gung ho
Vardy sweeps one back
Rashford is the last throw

Linking up with Vardy
Connecting with Delle Alli
Sturridge nicks it in injury time 
And England lead Group 3

15 06 16

© emdad rahman


Monday, June 13, 2016

Piqué leaves it late

Piqué leaves it late

Spain 1-0 Czech Republic

The best thing about Spain
They do take away your breath
And typically in the first half
They passed the ball to death

Morata told to play up top
La Roja lack a number nine
Aduriz with an overhead kick
Fabregas took one off the line

As the game entered sunset
'A goal' screams Del Bosque
Iniesta's perfectly flighted cross
And a fifth for Gerard Piqué

Stadium de Toulouse

13 06 16

© emdad rahman

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Poland get first ever Euro win

Poland 1-0 N Ireland

The Irish are in town
And there's not a single frown
Michael O'Neill's men create a din

Milik gets the fame
With the only goal of the game
Poland get a first ever Euro win

Stade de Nice, Nice

12 06 16

© emdad rahman
Team DFB on the march
Germany 1-0 Ukraine

The world champions hit Lille
Kroos puts the ball on a sixpence
Bluenose Mustafi steams in for one nil
Ghosting through the Ukraine defence

Kroos bosses, Khedira goes close
Boateng off the line with the ball
Khacheridi comes close from a corner
But there's Neuer the German brick wall

As the clock runs down
Low unleashes Schweinsteiger
Ozil tees it perfect
Clinical is the old warrior

Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille Métropole

13 06 16

© emdad rahman


Modric missile earns Vatreni win

Croatia 1-0 Turkey

Srna and Perisic struck the wood
Corluka's head don't look good
Modric strikes an absolute missile

Rakitic and Turan compete
Fans pound the drum beat
But Turkiye just lacked the guile

Parc de Princes

12 06 16

© emdad rahman

Sonali Othith 40 plus football moves the game forward

Emdad Rahman: I'm currently reading a book called 'Retired' (review coming soon). It's written by Irish stand-up comedian Alan Gernon and talks about the pitfalls faced by footballers coming to the end of their careers. It's a fascinating read and splits opinion right down the middle. I met the Author at the launch of Fleet Street Sport & Media Group, which amongst many services also promotes the health, wealth and welfare of footballers and their families.

Football as a sport has a big impact on mental health and affects self-esteem, identity and many relationships. I have read a study where one in for fans claimed that football was one of the most important things in their lives. This year I had the pleasure of participating in the Sonali Othith 40 years plus veterans tournament 2016 for Dawatul Islam, who I had played for as a youth footballer. Thirty years on and it was nice playing with the boys again. Reaching 40 has served a timely reminder of just how popular football is in the community.
The summer league had six teams participating and the enthusiasm all round was great to experience. It made me think about aspects of our lives which Gernon highlights in his book. Let's look at the phenomena of the retired footballer. One day the world is their oyster and then they retire, sudden or after years of service, and the world comes to a standstill. Apart from a handful, who go into TV, punditry, coaching and maybe business, many have to retrain for a new career Or find something to keep themselves ticking over. Quite a few can’t handle being out of the limelight - no selfies, adulation, autographs, invites. Some turn broke within a very short time, whilst others suffer with major social issues, marital break ups, bankruptcy, alcohol/drugs dependency, gambling, which they struggle to overcome.

Although the lives of all the veterans participating at the Sonali Othith 2016 Masters differ vastly from their professional millionaire superiors there can be parallels in what happens after these people reach a certain age when they have to step away from the level of the game they have played for so long. Most vets I know hold down a job or have business or family commitments they take care of on a daily basis. Football is a release for them which provides physical and mental stimulation. My friends and I play football at Mulberry Leisure Centre on a Friday and although WhatsApp is good it's the only time we actually get to meet physically as a group. The experience is one we look forward to with great gusto. It's a treat at the end of a hard working week and sets us up for a productive and relaxing weekend ahead. This is not unusual. The Leisure Centre has pockets of bookings, all mates getting together for a football social on a Friday night. This happens all over the city, in fact the country, continent and planet. Do you get my drift? It's not just football is it? In fact football improves life quality.

In 2010 the Mental Health Foundation said that for people with depression, “Comparative studies have shown that exercise can be as effective as medication or psychotherapy”. Football helps everyday people and helps break isolation and depression.
Which brings me back to the 5 a side tournament. Poplar were worthy winners of the 2016 40 years plus showcase with Masud Miah a worthy recipient of man of the tournament. Dawatul Islam were the surprise package and raised many eyebrows to finish second. Shagor showed great character to finish in third place on the last day, and Shadwell, CAG and Ocean contributed to a successful tournament. Every player was an ambassador and each team served to remind us of how important it is to remain active at an age where many lapse into a retirement mindset.

The team at Sonali Othith for years have been at the forefront of promoting sports amongst the older generations. It keeps a section of the community active and productive. It helps people feel significant, relevant and in touch. It promotes a feel good factor which is good for overall wellbeing. Sonali Othith remains active in the field and recently also held the Friendship Cup, comprised of senior members of various UK welfare organisations, and which was won by the greater Lamakazi Welfare Association.
I've spoken to Dawlath Khan and Faruque Ahmed and there's some exciting projects planned. With the interest shown I can see a walking football tournament coming soon to accommodate the interest shown. In fact such has been the demand that Sonali Othith are now in the process of setting up a similar league for the winter. Then there is also the 8 a side Masters tournament in August which should be another exciting day out. In fact Sonali Othith may go further and even arrange a cup format for 45 year olds and above. This is testament to not only the hard work of Sonali Othith but also the positive mindset of a community that looks to increasingly keep active as the years roll on.

Sonali Othith means golden past but that doesn't mean that this is a place where golden oldies reminisce the good old days. It is a platform from which participants look at the past to ignite the future.
Football is a great medium to bring people together and promote an active and healthy life and I hope Sonali Othith will continue to engage with hard to reach individuals using the beautiful game to reach out and make contact. As they say, sports for all, sports for life.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Welsh Dragons get a first ever Euro win

Wales 1-0 Slovakia

Land of My Fathers belts out loud
With magic moments from Marek Hamsik 
Sheer heroics though from Ben Davies
The Spurs man right in the thick

Gareth Bale with a scorcher
Wales' first on target shot in the game 
The Falcons don't like the Welsh dragon
Ten years ago he'd done the very same

Slovakia toiled and it soon paid off
Duda put his team back in the fray
Of course Skrtel celebrated hard
The last to score against Wales was Pele

But they end up dancing in the valleys
Chris Coleman can't hide his delight
Hal Robson-Kanu scuffs a winner
And Welsh eyes tonight shine bright

Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux

11 06 16

© emdad Rahman

England held in Marseille

England 1-1 Russia

Whilst violence flared in Marseille
Roy's boys looked like they meant it
And then came the breakthrough
The free kick from Dier exquisite

Injury time and for some is a tragedy
Though not quite Macbeth
A lifeline for Leonid Slutsky
As Berezutski loops one at the death

Stade Velodrome, Marseille

11 06 16

© emdad rahman

Swiss clip valiant Eagles

Albania 0-1 Switzerland

The brothers Xhaka lock horns
It's historic sibling rivalry
Shaqiri's whipped corner so clean 
More so than the shorts of Behrami

Early delight for the Swiss
Hoffenheim's Schar with the goal fix
Blow as the skipper sees red
Lorik Cana straight into the mix

6 could have played for Albania
10 could have joined the Swiss
The Eagles should have won it
But La Nati seal it with a kiss

Stade Bollaert-Delelis, Lens Agglo

11 06 16

© emdad Rahman


Ramadan 2016 with One Third Soup Kitchen

Emdad Rahman: It takes merely minutes to make a positive change I told wide eyed Inaya.

It's Ramadan 2016 and Kam and I had a new team with us today. We really enjoyed serving and mixing with our visiting guests. It was quick and effective.

In fact nowadays I advise volunteers on our soup kitchen to keep the engine running. Our guests are all ready and waiting. We set up, chat, catch up, serve, clean up and leave. It's a very quick system. The volunteers can then get back to their usual Saturday night after making a very positive difference to someone's day. It all fits well within the hustle and bustle of our modern day lives. The chicken biriani from Aysha and Ashraf was so popular it was gone within 35 minutes. Thanks to Farida for the introduction.

There is a mind-set that homeless citizens are somehow different to us. It's not at all easy accepting a plate of something from a complete stranger. They are in that position because some calamity or misfortune has befallen them. We at One Third don't judge - It could have been us receiving the hospitality. We want to use this level of outreach to help change perceptions about homelessness.

The only downside was a security guard. He was downright rude, offensive and aggressive. He made us move our table. I explained that we would be done in 30 minutes and pointed out that the roof above our heads provides shelter from the elements. I won't go into details because I don't want to give this waste of space any publicity. (I may write about this separately). I did however point out that he is nowhere to be seen when smokers and rowdy drinkers block the entrance, and when visitors feel threatened by the presence of aggressive pockets of people congregating at the entrance. But... Priorities are priorities for them I guess and these soup kitchen volunteers are a real bunch of hellraisers. He's always rude is that one - I don't know - maybe he needs a plate of the good stuff. Maybe I'll offer the 'big man' one next time.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Les Bleus win as Euro 2016 kicks off

France 2-1 Romania
Grand opening just a tad lame
A garish ceremony
We settled down for the big game
Stade de France, St Denis
Home joy and elaborate fanfare 
As Giroud's scores eighteen in fifty 
Stancu's penalty makes it all square
For the boys from Micul Paris
Romo defence do their thing
Les Blues just couldn't unlock it 
Time's up, the bell about to ring
Payet launches that rocket
10 06 16
© emdad rahman

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Former First Citizen joins One Third Soup Soup Kitchen

"We rise by lifting others"

My team mate Rahel had arranged Chicken Biriani, which I collected from All Seasons in Mile end. 

This was my first soup kitchen where my own kids joined me. Two of my boys helped me collect the food, set up the table, put up the banner, serve and take pics. I was very pleased with their presence and this served many purposes. 

Firstly, it got them out of the house, away from their damned consoles. 

Secondly, they proved they had the ability to carry out tasks independently. 

Thirdly, the interaction with vulnerable and needy fellow humans was educational and uplifting. You can't ever buy such a life experience. 

Fourthly, they met a real celebrity. We were fortunate to be joined by Mizanur Chaudhury, Tower Hamlets youngest ever Mayor and the borough's first official speaker. His presence alone was another lesson for the kids. They were inspired that an individual of such standing had the time and the inclination to roll up his sleeves and help serve homeless guests. Mizan lives around the corner, and just like myself, he knew most of the vulnerable people we served at the soup kitchen. 

And that brings me to my conclusion. Volunteering isn't just about benefitting others. The benefits one gains personally are far greater. 

If you'd like to help me at Westfield, Stratford or Booth House, Whitechapel then Tweet me - @emdad07

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Niall Quinn: “We want the opportunity to nurture players and help them avoid potential pitfalls”

Former Sunderland player speaks at launch of Fleet Street Sport and Media Group

Emdad Rahman: The Earl of Shrewsbury DL and The Lord Ouseley hosted a lunch reception in the Cholmondeley Rom and Terrace, House of Lords to celebrate the launch of the Fleet Street Sport and Media Group, an iconic group for an exciting new concept in sports media and consultancy.

After an introduction from the Earl, Lord Ouseley said: “It’s a sports venture that has an important role to play in the lives of many people and I wish the group success, especially as the services offered will benefit so many people who need help, guidance and advice.”

Former Arsenal, Manchester City player and Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn, Harry Harris (the award-winning sports journalist and author of 74 books), and former Sky news journalist, editor and producer Jem Maidment along with several others have joined forces to form Fleet Street Sport & Media Group in conjunction with several household names in the world of sport and media.
The aim of the group is to provide an all-inclusive offering in sports consultancy.

Former Republic of Ireland star Quinn, who is the chairman of Fleet Street Sport and Media Group spoke about retirement and life post football - an aspect of the game that often draws attention. He said: "Part of the support services we offer is that we concentrate on the well being of the person and look at prevention as a cure. It's very important to focus on the rest of one’s life before the end of one’s playing career. In that sense players can be prepared to deal with the challenges that lie ahead after they retire.

"We want to reduce the number of cases of depression, divorces, dark periods and bankruptcy. To better prepare for what lies ahead, we want the opportunity to nurture players and help them avoid potential pitfalls that are waiting after they retire from the game.

"What we see in the public domain from time to time is only the top of the iceberg. The real issues are hidden and are far more grim. We work with clubs, boards and agents and hope to offer our support to prevent such sad situations."

Quinn read a passage from a book titled 'Retired' - What happens to footballers when the game’s up. It’s the first book by Irish stand-up comedian Alan Gernon. The Dundalk and Manchester United fan said: “I had an idea to write this book when I thought about players around my age retiring. On average the football retirement age is around 35 and I asked myself what happens next? Most of the people I know don’t retire with bags of money and live happy ever after with millions in the bank.
“Although some become managers and pundits, we don’t know what happens to the majority.

Transition from the game to ‘normal life’ is often very difficult and the cause of several problems – divorce, mental health and financial issues among other things.

Stephanie Moore MBE, the widow of the late Bobby Moore, the only man to lift the football World Cup for England, and the founder of the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK applauded the launch of the group and the wider support it offers. Since the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK was set up in 1993 mortality rates have fallen 30% and over £22 million has been raised for research. She said: "There is a need to be involved earlier in footballer’s careers, although the simple matter of resources has to be taken into account, especially as someone needs to be allocated to look after footballers and their welfare.

"Paul Gascoigne is an example. He was ok until Terry Venables moved away and then he was clearly rudderless and really struggled. That could have all been avoided if he had a really good mentor. Lots of footballers live away from their families, friends and they're trying to make it big whilst living in digs. I welcome any extra support. It’s really hard out there."

Sky news pundit Paul Walsh won the league title with Liverpool and the FA Cup with Tottenham during a 17 year career with Charlton, Manchester, QPR, Luton and two stints at Portsmouth. He said: "I have bought my Dad along and he’s really excited - This is his very first time in the House of Lords and Parliament.”

Walsh, who won 5 senior caps under Sir Bobby Robson, was a member of the triumphant England team at the 1980 UEFA European Under-18 Championship in East Germany is not surprised by the emergence of Leicester City as a force in the Premier League: “Everyone says that I must have always rooted for Tottenham but at the end of the day Leicester have simply been fantastic all season. Leicester were simply the best team. They were great, exciting, and different, and each and every squad member has a great story behind how they got there."

Jimmy Carter played with Teddy Sheringham, Tony Cascarino and Terry Hurlock at Millwall before high profile moves to Liverpool and Arsenal. The match day host and commercial executive at Millwall feels education is a must in supporting footballers during and after their playing career is over: "As a player you only focus on your tasks and delivering on the pitch and getting the right results for your team. It's difficult to put the onus on clubs as players are not always in one place and move on to different clubs during their career. However, I do agree that education is important to prepare players on how to manage their lives during and after their career."

1991 FA Cup winner David Howells made his Tottenham debut at 18 and scored in a 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday. The midfielder played 277 games for Spurs and scored 22 goals. Howells is supportive of what Fleet Street Sport and Media Group are trying to achieve: "It makes sense whichever way you look at it. Planning one’s life is always the best option. Saving for a rainy day and being prepared to being out of work are all processes which are part and parcel of our lives.

"It's difficult after retirement, especially as it's all you've done since playing football on the streets as a youngster and all of a sudden at 33 or 35 years of age you have a gap. So the next challenge is to find something that enriches and adds fulfillment to the next stage of your life."

Former Swiss international and Tottenham, Celtic, Watford and Grasshoppers centre back Ramon Vega is grateful for the opportunities offered to him by football. In October 2015 Vega considered standing as a candidate for the FIFA Presidential race. He said: "I am the son of immigrants and I understand how difficult it is being out there on your own and how hard one has to work to make a success of their lives. The opportunities are out there but it takes a great deal of hard graft and commitment. All these footballers in this very room – each and every one had to work hard to make it on the pitch. Some would say that they had to work harder to make it off the pitch and their stories should inspire others who will follow.

"Remember, not everyone is rich, even though the modern day football pay is out of this world. Many don’t save, invest badly or give it away. Before they realise it their careers are over and they are struggling to pay basic bills.

“The question always is what one will do after retirement? What next? It's scary. Some may have something saved, others may not have a cushion to fall back on and that's difficult. There's not a great deal of help so any mentoring, guidance and advice for players whilst they are playing would always be very useful in preparing them for life after their playing career ends. What Niall (Quinn) has spoken about is a great system of support.

“Thankfully I have had a successful business and football career and I'm enjoying life since retirement. I have developed a taste for football politics through my interest in the FIFA Presidential race it is something I would like to be more involved with in the future.

Guests attending the launch included former Arsenal vice chairman David Dein, Osvaldo Ardiles, Ricardo Villa and Martin Tyler.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Human Relief exhibition game raises staggering 3k for charity

Emdad Rahman: Charity was the winner as the Human Relief Foundation hosted a charity exhibition game at Mile end to raise money for important humanitarian causes. 

The HRF Blue and Yellow teams took to the field to support the construction of water wells and cataract operations to help the most vulnerable people in some of the world's poorest locations. 

The game was played in glorious London weather by a host of veteran and young footballers, and a very entertaining spectacle saw the spoils shared as both teams hammered in 7 goals apiece. 

As a testimony to the charitable nature of the game, a penalty shootout to settle an overall winner was declined, as the players agreed to share the glory. Captains Akik Miah and Emdad Rahman lifted the trophy in a joint post match ceremony. 

Blue team player manager Jalal Uddin said: "Congratulations to both teams on providing such a great spectacle. We played in unity and it is fantastic we have raised awareness for such needy causes."

Yellow team manager Khoyrul Shaheed added: "I would like to thank all our donors for the amazing support. Additional thanks to our local coaches Shah Rahman from Limehouse Marina Elite club, Abdul Hannan from Brawlers and also Abdul Hannan from Hunter & Bloomfield Property Services for their support and presence today."

Veteran Zoinul Abedin, who scored a crucial goal in the second half said: "It has been special playing alongside everyone today. Well done to all our players on such a magnanimous team effort and the impact of our game today will inspire many others to do the same."

Match official Alan Hill added: "It's been a really enjoyable game to referee. The spirit was tremendous and it's great that we have all done our bit to help our fellow humans. Football is a game that has the ability to make such a huge impact as we have witnessed. Congratulations, everyone's a winner today."

The Human Relief Foundation is a charity which provides emergency relief and assistance to people caught up in extraordinary, life-threatening situations. 


Lokuj Jaman (2), Zoinul Abedin, Mamun Rashid (2), Akik Miah (1), Afazul Hoque (2), Shakil Rahman (2, 1 OG), Emdad Rahman (2), Talha Rahman, Mirza Baig Shipu


Jalal Uddin - Player manager - Khoyrul Shaheed - Player manager - Zoinul Abedin - Akoddus Taju Ali - Rongu Miah - Mamun Rashid - Hamid Yusuf - Mohsin Ahmed - Riad Shaheed  - Dawud Abdullah Shaheed - Mirza Baig Shipu - Lokuj Jaman - Ridwan Rashid - Mohammed Shipu Miah - Abdal Ahmed - Abdul Munim - Talha Rahman - Shakil Rahman - Afazul Hoque - Akik Miah - Emdad Rahman