Behind Every Kick holds first Graduation ceremony and launches BEK Connect

Young people from School21, Sporting Hackney FC and Wealdstone FC came together at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium earlier this month to celebrate their achievements with Behind Every Kick and to hear about an exciting new stage to the project.

The young football and netball players were treated to an exclusive stadium tour with Gunners icon Charlie George. Highlights included exploring the home and away dressing rooms, before making their way up the tunnel to the hallowed turf. There was even an opportunity for a quick selfie (or seven) in the Arsenal managerial hot seat.

Behind Every Kick and Arsenal Legend Charlie George pitchside at The Emirates.

It wouldn't be Behind Every Kick without some actual sport being played, so the young people changed into their kit and took part in a highly competitive round-robin football and netball tournament. There were lots of great goals and plenty of smiles, even from those BEK mentors - in attendance to celebrate their mentees' success - who bravely / foolishly tried to keep up out on the pitch.

Players enjoying a game of football at The Emirates Community Hub pitch.

After well-deserved pizza all around, it was time for an interactive quiz recapping the lessons from Behind Every Kick's Development sessions. With a star prize of a signed Alex Iwobi match-worn Arsenal shirt, the quiz proved just as competitive as the afternoon's sport. Thankfully all inner-hulks were kept firmly in check.

Shamar, a young player for Sporting Hackney FC, said; “I was gutted not to win a prize in the quiz, I was trying everything. But having the stadium tour and sport tournament as part of the graduation made it an amazing day.”

As they received their graduation certificates, the young people heard from guest speakers and the spokespeople they had selected from their own teams, who shared experiences of the past season.

Young people representing their teams talk about their experiences with Behind Every Kick this season.

While celebrating the young people's success during the programme, graduation represents just the start of their journey with Behind Every Kick. BEK Connect, launched at the graduation ceremony, will create a network through which graduates can explore their passions and engage with inspirational individuals and organisations.

Behind Every Kick Chairman, Adam Wilson said, "it was a brilliant occasion. I am so proud of all our graduates. I'm really excited that with the launch of BEK Connect, Behind Every Kick will go on supporting these young people as they take their next steps in life."

Behind Every Kick is looking forward to welcoming a new cohort of players for the 2019/20 season and hopes to see many of this year's graduates return as BEK mentors in the near future.