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What it takes to tackle coaching

As a mother to three beautiful boys, the first things we played with were in fact footballs. My children are all keen footballers and my eldest even has a YouTube channel called the indoor freestyler where he shows football skills and does challenges from home and yes, he does break things and no, I do not recommend ball games indoors!

However, I’ve always loved playing football, and as a child I spent my summers playing at the local park, which we fondly called ‘Red Pitch’, with my brother and other children in our area.  I stopped playing football as a young girl due to cultural pressures because football had always been seen as a ‘man’s game’.

I later rediscovered the sport when I went to University although the numbers of girls interested was so low that in the end I just joined the gym and forgot about playing as I thought there was no demand for it. Nonetheless here I am today a qualified level 1 Coach!

This came about when I got involved with the Football Association Level 1 (FAL1) through my organisation, Muslimah Sports Association (MSA).  I was persuaded to take part by our Chair, Yashmin Harun, who is always looking to invest in the people around her. Roughly six months prior to starting the course I had started playing football again which reminded me how much I enjoyed the beautiful game and how good it felt to get fitter. So although I had my reservations and was apprehensive about how the course would work, I jumped at the opportunity to get involved in something centred around my passion even though it was frowned upon amongst my community (I knew other women from similar backgrounds shared this problem).BHM 860X310mm header 2016

The FAL1 helped rekindle my love for football, and I thoroughly enjoyed the learning experience which I felt was perfectly tailored for me. The coach that trained us, Louise, was truly inspirational and shared many common barriers that we all faced including being a mother.

Louise became a coach when women’s football was seen as small scale and football still had the stigma of being a ‘man’s sport’. Although attitudes may not have been in her favour, she remained dedicated to spreading her knowledge and involving other women in the sport, gradually breaking down the barriers that society had formed. She was there to coach for the love of the game and teach children, including her own.

Throughout the course she was not only professional and very supportive but very accommodating too which was well received as quite a few ladies on the course were mum’s too, and Louise knew first-hand of the issues that we had all faced. Being a parent would often make attending sessions difficult, but our coach was aware of issues such as childcare, and so would be flexible, she also allowed a child to sit in with us until they were collected during one session. This all helped to make the course easy, and less stressful for us all.

The course was split into theory and practice, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. When I started I was already coaching my students football as part of the National Curriculum, however FAL1 taught me additional mentoring aspects of the game that I had not previously considered such as how we play and how we support others.  We also learnt things about ourselves such as how we interact with others and how easy it was to get on with people from different backgrounds, as well as different ages (the youngest student on the course being around college age, to the oldest around 40 years old) simply because we have the same goal in mind as well as the same passion for the game. It was great to meet new people who quickly became a network of friends I can call on.

We did a range of practises on the course, from passing to scoring and everything in-between and we had a rich variety of coaching styles to work with.

four corner model

We were also introduced to the Football Associations Four Corner Model which I thought was a unique and effective teaching tool which, due to its adaptability, can be applied to any sport. I have since used this in regular teaching as I was so impressed by how the model covered the main areas which add to the development of an individual. 

After finishing the course a huge number of fantastic opportunities have opened up to me. I am currently being mentored and occasionally co-coach our ladies football night on a Friday which is run by MSA.  I am also really excited to be fully coaching a ladies session in partnership with Leyton Orient Football Club as I feel that with the amount of resources and support provided by an official Football Club, I can only  thrive. Lastly, I have just been approached to run a girls session and after school club for girls.  So all in all it was a truly positive experience which I would highly recommend to anyone considering this course.

The highlight of this journey for me has been my realisation of women’s football and with these new initiatives things will only get better.  I am really proud to be part of this and look forward to seeing more fruitful partnerships which will help people to try new things in future. I am also humbled by the ample opportunities’ available if you are willing to look.  I consider myself in a privileged position to help the next generation of girls realise aspirations and dreams that my generation could not have.

The FA and all the people that were involved in this venture have broken down some barriers which have created new pathways for the future and I have now learned that this sport isn’t just for one gender, it is for everyone!

Football is a passion in my household and my husband, alongside local dads, has recently started up an initiative called ‘Dads and lads’ where local dads go and have a kick about in the park with their sons. I have been thinking of an initiative similar to this for mums and their kids but it’s still only in my head.  Watch this space….

Post Author: Reha Ullah


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Redbridge Children’s Book Award 2016

On Thursday 7 July 2016, over 230 enthusiastic readers, budding writers along with their school librarians and teachers celebrated this year’s Redbridge Children’s Book Awards in a buzzing, exciting ceremony at Redbridge Town Hall.

Students from seventeen secondary schools and eight primary schools across Redbridge, Havering and Newham voted for their favourite children’s and teenage book published in 2015.

With such a vast and amazing selection of books voted upon, the final winners were announced. Car-jacked by Ali Sparkes, won the Children’s category and One by Sarah Crossan won the Teenage Category.

Ali Sparkes

We were delighted to have three of the shortlisted authors present at the awards ceremony – Ali Sparkes, Holly Bourne and Teri Terry.  Unfortunately Sarah Crossan, winner of the teenage award, was unable to attend but sent a lovely message.

I’m so delighted to have won The Redbridge Children’s Book Award 2016. Regional awards are so important in inspiring young people to try new books, and I’m just so sad I can’t be there to celebrate the shortlisted titles. I really hope you’ve all enjoyed reading the books and I do hope to meet some of you soon for book chats. Lots of love, Sarah.

The event was also an opportunity for the winners of the writing and poetry competitions that took place across the schools to be presented with their prizes. The poetry competition was judged by David Fulton, lecturer in Creative Writing at Brunel University and the short story competition was judged by author and Head of Bancrofts Prep School, Joe Layburn.


It was a tough decision for the judges, as there were so many great entries to choose from! Mia Thomas from Fairlop Primary won the junior poetry competition with her poem, 5 SensesAyesha Ahmed from Woodford County High School won the teenage category with the poem Am I Invisible. Suamaya Zanab from Wanstead High School won the junior short story competition with her story, ChangeAnnie Walker from Wanstead High School won the teenage category with her story, The Miserable Life of Ernie Thomas.  Winners were presented with a book token, a fiction book and a copy of this year’s anthology of all shortlisted poems and stories.

Many thanks to everyone who attended the event, especially the authors who gave up their time to be present, students and teachers who participated so enthusiastically and a very special thank you to my team in the Redbridge Schools’ Library Service who worked very hard behind the scenes to ensure the afternoon was such a success.


The book award is organised by Redbridge Schools’ Library Service and sponsored by MLS (Micro Librarian Systems).

Nina Simon, Redbridge Schools’ Library Service

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Last Man Stands Match Report 23 June

Big Boys are up for the Cup and Barbados 2015

Match Report

Despite some close encounters there were no upsets in the cup matches at LMS Redbridge with all the big boys going through. Jamia East London Boys (125 for 4) lost to The Black Eagles (131 without lost) with Captain Nav Ali hitting yet another 50. In a close encounter between two second division teams it was nip and tuck all the way with Loxford Lions getting the better of Brothers United. The Lions batting first powered their way to 195 with Ashraf and Nasir hitting 50s. The Brothers were already 100 in the 11th over and looked likely to reach their target faltering in the closing overs to finish on 170 with Bashir and Usman scoring 50s. It was a noisy affair with lots of banter and great fun and friendly handshakes at the end – Last Man Stands at its best.

In other close encounters Kerry Packer Clique waved a magical wand to prevent East London overhauling their low total of 123. Needing 45 off the last 9 overs the Clique looked buried for the first upset of the cup, then by some mystical bowling managed to keep the Eagles to 117. The magician was Alex Ward with 3 wickets for 5 runs from 2 overs. As if that was not enough PAK Warriors from division 2 took on Traditional Corsairs in a friendly blood sweat and tears match. The Corsairs batted first to finish on 120 and it looked all too easy for the Warriors until the last over, when with only 7 runs required the Warriors batsman turned a ball to square leg which hit the helmet of the outgoing batsman which was left on the ground. Warriors ran 3 but the Officials ruled that they had defaulted resulting in a dot ball and they ended up losing by 2 runs. In others matches Ilford Scorchers (149) won easily over Lankan Stars (87) with Atif scoring 50 for the Scorchers and Desi Sloggers (112) made light work of Ilford Knightriders (111). Earlier on Eight Indians (212) hammered Royal Panters (117) for the easiest of wins. Staan Stallions forfeited their match versus Chakwal Stars.

We are now into the Quarter finals stages of the Cup competitions with only Loxford Lions from division 2 remaining among the big boys, they will play Kerry Packer Clique next week. Other fixtures will see The Black Eagles take on Desi Sloggers and Traditional Corsairs play Eight Indians.

LMS Regional Competition

The draw has been made for the regional and as previously notified the top team from LMS Redbridge will play the competition on 31 August in Barnes, South West London. All teams pushing for the top spot should take note and be ready to play the regional with the winner going to the nationals and a chance to win £5,000 towards Barbados 2015 World Champs.

See London Champs League 2014 fixtures

Barbados 2015 World Champs

We are still looking at ways to get at least one team from Redbridge to Barbados for the World Champs in March 2015. If your team have any interest please discuss with me as places are limited and we need to look at confirming the entry and any help with funding. Also individuals can join the Barbarians team and head to Barbados. Please see all details below and feel free to discuss with me any interest whatsoever you may have in taking part in the LMS World Champs with team from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and others heading for Barbados – Are You?

The Road to Barbados Challengers, Form Guide & Latest Odds

National Cricket Playing Survey

The National Cricket Playing Survey offers players from the age of 14 upwards the chance to have your say and influence the future of cricket at grassroots level. Last year more than 21,000 current and former players responded to the survey, and ECB, County Cricket Boards, Leagues and Clubs are already acting on the comprehensive and wide-ranging feedback received, introducing new formats, rule changes, different start times, shorter travel distances to matches and greater opportunities for women, girls and people with a disability to play the game.

It will take less time than a cricket tea to tell us who you play for, what you love about the game and how best we can improve your experience of the sport. By completing the survey you will have the chance to win prizes including signed bats, shirts and pairs of tickets to an England v India Royal London One Day International. Please see the link below to complete the survey and thank you in advance for doing so.

Take the National Cricket Playing survey

Post Author: Ian Selby, Manager Last Man Stands – Redbridge

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Smash & Grab A Great Day Out Prize Draw!

Win a ‘Red Letter Day’ experience each week for 10 weeks when you get on court!

It’s that time of year again where we bring you the latest No Strings Badminton promotional offer! Between 1 February 2014 and 18 April 2014, BADMINTON England will be supporting No Strings Badminton with a series of 10 incredible prize draws!

One lucky person will win an amazing prize each week! For players, aged 16+, attending sessions within leisure partner sites (excluding student only’ sessions held in universities or colleges), each weekly prize draw will:

  • Offer an Experience Day as a prize – fulfilled by way of vouchers*.
  • Have 1 prize to the minimum value of £135.

You can enter a prize draw either by asking your session co-ordinator to report your session attendance or via self-entry online at

You could be in with a chance of winning:

  • Afternoon tea for 4
    • Spa day with treatment for 2 people
    • Annual passes to national theme parks / attractions – for all the family
    • Supercar driving experience
    • Country House break for 2

Every session attendance counts as a new entry – the more sessions attended, the more times your name gets entered into the prize draw.  Remember to check the No Strings Badminton Facebook account as winners will be announced their first! Winners will be notified by email and have 25 days – including public holidays – to claim their prize on receipt of a ‘winners notification’ email from BADMINTON England.

*Prizes will be fulfilled by way of Red Letter Day gift vouchers to a fixed value unless otherwise advised.  Some activities may be provided by an alternative vendor and may not be transferable.  Where Red Letter Day gift vouchers are supplied, these can exchanged online for a variety of experience days to a fixed value.  

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Battle Badminton! Let the Challenge begin…

Challenge. Improve. Conquer.

Battle Badminton

From the 4th of November the brave can separate from the feeble and step forward to enter a whole new realm of Badminton gameplay. Let Battle commence!

Battle Badminton is a new informal, casual competition league with flexible rules, where players identify opponents and set up challenges online. Defeat your opponent and then compete for bragging rights in a local leisure centre of their choice.

Go online to find new players to challenge, shake the skies with your battle cry then boldly mark your battle ground.

Challenge. Improve. Conquer.

Can you face the challenge..?

Only players aged 18 years old or over can compete in battle. Battle Badminton is for casual players who play Badminton socially in leisure centres and are not members of formal clubs, playing to league / county standard or above. You can compete in local or national leader boards, or create your own! Collect Battle points every time you play, and rise through the 9 ranks of ‘Battle status’.

Fuel your competitive streak and enter the brave new world of Battle Badminton.

Join now to unlock 1 of 10,000 free battle places.

Use Wanstead Leisure Centre or Redbridge Sports Centre as your Battleground!

Check out the Battle Badminton Website.

 Post Author: Emily Polling

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Back2Netball Venue Change

A quick reminder for all those Netball players out there! Back2Netball sessions have moved! They will no longer be taking place at Wanstead Leisure Centre. As of today the group will be playing at St Aubyn’s School, Bunces Lane, Woodford Green Essex IG8 9DU, and will cost £2.50 instead of £1.

Those of you who aren’t part of the team, why not pop down and give it a go?  The sessions run every Tuesday from 7 pm – 8.30 pm and are a great way to make new friends and have a laugh. It really doesn’t matter what skill level you are at, so long as you are enthusiastic you’ll fit right in.

I popped along to a session last week and it was great fun! Despite the fact I have two left feet, can’t catch a ball to save my life and fell over quite spectacularly at one point – I still had a brilliant time. The girls are all lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed my first attempt at netball in about 6 years.

Anyone interested or wanting to play in a team, call 07854 090628 or email

Post author –  Emily Polling