By Aalia Khan

IMG-20140414-WA0009_resizedThe youth of Bradford are vital in the betterment and enhancement of the city. Educating, empowering and enabling their safety are key elements which reside in many communities. As such, Shapla Football Academy hold these core values in helping Asian and non-Asian disadvantaged youth, in Bradford, to come together in a safe environment to improve their communication, integration and social skills as well as gaining an education and having fun whilst doing so.

Shapla Football Academy was founded two years ago by Shahidur Rahman, Abul Qasim, Abu Khair and Humayan Islam. The Four men felt that they needed to give back to the community by providing youths with a free football Academy and access to mainstream football. The men have been putting their voluntary time into creating the academy and forming partnerships with many organisations that have been integral in the academy’s success.

BEAP Community sports hall in Manningham saw the vision of the academy and provided the venue where the kids could come and play their favourite sport as well as being trained and taught by the founders. Currently there are around 100 students involved in the academy who range from 4-16 year olds.

20141220_114814_resizedThe academy only works with youth boys, for now, as the staff members are all males, however Humayan explains that they are looking to branch out their activities and provide female staff members for female youths to come and participate in various different sports.

Since it started Shapla’s success has taken off and their hard work has been recognised by many. Kick It Out, a campaigning organisation which enables, facilitates and works with the football authorities, professional clubs, and communities to tackle all forms of discrimination, noticed the brilliant work Shapla Academy were doing and have now joined in partnership with them to help develop it further. Ezycare also provided kits for the students to wear. And as part of further integration, The Football supporters Federation arranged two football matches at Bradford City football Club for the academy kids. Anwar Uddin from the federation commented “I was delighted to see that 60 youths attended the match and for most of them, it was their first time to attend a live game.”

The children gain these fantastic opportunities through the academy and Humayan says they hope to be able to take the youth to many more, bigger events in the future, such as to a Liverpool or Manchester united football match.

20141220_110914_resizedThe children are also taught lessons in development, communication and integration as well as playing the sport, which allows the founders to be able to give back and do something for the “Betterment of the community” explains Humayan.  He says at the end of each session children are provided with treats such as sweets, trophies, medals and certificates which helps keep them motivated and keen to return.

Parents are also supportive of the academy and have been pleased with the work of Shapla,“Parents have been really, really positive and It’s been such a great factor in bringing the community together, allowing children and their parents to interact more when the parents, especially fathers, attend the football matches” says Humayan.

The kids have been split into three groups consisting of 4-7year olds, 8-12 year olds and 13-16 year olds, and classes are held for these different groups on Saturday mornings between 10am-1pm.

10am-11am – 8-12year olds

11am-12pm – 13-16 year olds

12pm-1pm- 4-7 year olds

Shapla Academy are preparing for their official launch on February 19th and those wishing to attend the academy can get in touch with Abul Qasim – 07971 015721 or Humayan Islam – 07868322723.