Hornchurch Tigers Junior FC for the 2021 London Sport Awards

A Hornchurch football program has been nominated for a London-wide award.

Tigers Junior Football Club has been nominated for the 2021 London Sport Awards for its Tigers Futures programs, which help young people become coaches and referees.

Tiger futures

Tigers Junior Football Club’s Tiger Futures program has been nominated for the London Sports Awards. Pictured: Alfie Atkinson (l), Owen Keen, Charlie Wiggins, Leigh Gell, Max Young, Alex Jones, Connor Smith, Evie Doherty, Christy Shields, George Bryant, Emily Gray, Alfie Sedge, James Gallagher, Amber Le-Beau, Henry Lacey and Regan Allen (r).
– Photo credit: Keith Di Palma

Tigers Chairman Keith Di Palma said it was an “honor” to be shortlisted for “The Enhancing the Workforce Award”.

He told this newspaper: “We were absolutely amazed.

“Moving into the final of the awards really made it clear to us that we were doing something good for the community.”

Keith and Lisa Di Palma

Keith and Lisa Di Palma have been running Tigers Junior Football Club for 23 years
– Photo credit: Keith Di Palma

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London Sport Chair Jillian Moore added, “The efforts of our shortlisted nominees have helped make a world of difference through the power of sport and physical activity.

“I would like to congratulate all of you on your outstanding contribution to your communities and wish you the best of luck with this year’s ceremony.”

Keith and his wife Lisa, who is the club secretary, have been involved in the football club for 23 years.

The couple launched the Tigers Futures program seven years ago, which provides free training and support for people ages 14 and older to develop other skills in football.

Keith explained, “There was a lot of anti-social behavior and it was a way to get young people off the streets.

“It’s all free and they come to training sessions for younger players, help with activities, and do their own sessions.”

Tiger futures

Tigers Futures offers free training for young people to become football referees and coaches
– Photo credit: Keith Di Palma

About six or seven new umpires qualify for the program each year, and the club pays for their formal qualifications when they turn 16.

“It just kept getting stronger,” added Keith.

“Some people who join when they are 14 are really shy and calm, and Tigers Futures gives them so much more confidence.

“We get such good feedback from parents who are grateful for what we do.”

Local companies, including Hornchurchs Trophyland and Sovereign Home Improvements, have provided referee kits for the youth.

Both Lisa and Ford Motor Club employee Keith, who works day and night shifts, are volunteers, and Keith said all of the money made with the Tigers goes back to the kids.


Keith and Lisa’s grandson Alfie joined the club three years ago when he was five
– Photo credit: Keith Di Palma

He said, “It’s very busy right now.

“Our weekends are full of football.

“And we also spend a few hours in the club every night during the week.”

The winners of the London Sport Awards, sponsored by the City of London Corporation, will be announced on Jan.

London Herald