London Sport Awards 2021 nominees: The Enhancing the Workforce Award - Tigers Junior Football Club
TIGERS Junior Football Club are roaring louder than ever after reaching the final shortlist for a prestigious London Sport Award.
And spearheaded by chairman Keith Di Palma, the proud Elm Park resident now wants to use his beloved club’s recognition to catapult them further onto the capital’s sporting map.
Tigers JFC, based at Bretons Outdoor Centre in south Hornchurch, are one of three final nominations shortlisted for The Enhancing the Workforce Award, in association with Chipotle, to be revealed at the showpiece event at London’s Guildhall in December.
The club have revolutionised grassroots sport in the region and, after setting up their trailblazing Futures programme in 2014, have provided a crucial lifeline for young football fanatics with a passion for coaching and refereeing.
Tigers have already trained more than 20 young people to be qualified referees and Di Palma, 53, hopes their richly-deserved success can be a springboard for even further growth in the future.
Di Palma, who will discover if he is a winner at an eagerly-anticipated awards ceremony at the historic Guildhall on December 6, said: "Being nominated for a London Sport Award is amazing and means the world to us.
“It really shows how determined we are to give back to the people and the local community – we have really blossomed and flourished ever since starting the project up.
"The Futures programme is a way that means once our players’ days in the youth section are over, they're not left behind. We want to leave a legacy in this area.”
Over the last five years, the annual London Sport Awards, in association with the City of London Corporation, has grown to become the biggest celebration of grassroots and community physical activity and sport in the city.
And this year’s showpiece event will once again recognise, celebrate, and shine a light on the stories of the incredible individuals, groups and organisations for their outstanding work across the capital helping Londoners of all ages and backgrounds to be physically active.
Tigers JFC have long been established in east London but the introduction of their Futures programme seven years ago propelled their popularity to new heights.
The club host weekly sessions on Saturday mornings and are now playing a pivotal role in nurturing the next generation of the capital’s best and brightest referees and coaches.
Tigers’ profile is continuing to sky-rocket and Romford-based Futures participant Amber Le-Beau, 17, said: "Tigers means so much to me.
“I've always really loved football and when I was offered the chance to take part in the Futures programme, I jumped at it with both hands.
"Being nominated for a London Sport Award is amazing recognition for what we’ve done and makes me even prouder to be part of this club.”
Fellow participant and Romford resident Alfie Atkinson, 16, added: "Tigers’ Futures programme ignited my love for coaching.
“From playing since I was four years old to now becoming part of the community is amazing. I'm doing what I love and it's the best.”