A football club in Newham was created as a mixed team of men and women over the age of 16 to help encourage exercise and mental health in the community.
Royal Wharf football club (RWFC) was launched by Dr Marvin Fried, 41, in June 2018 to bring the neighbourhood together.
What started as a small idea to encourage exercise & improve mental health especially throughout the Covid era, has now achieved 450 members to partake In two matches a week.
Within that 150 regularly attend, meaning pitches are always full, with the two goals of this team being simple, inclusive and flexible.
Stephanie who is a regular player said: “I don’t think mixed teams are promoted at all, and I think grassroots women’s football generally isn’t that well promoted.
“You almost need to know someone already playing in a league or a team, to be able to find more information.“
Dr Fried himself was surprised to learn not a lot of sports groups are open to being mixed which only made him double down more on being open to all.
Now with people from all walks of life, football hasn’t only become an output for exercise but sufficiently competitive.
This team’s football model is unusual in comparison to league teams, as most players are working professionals or international meaning that they have a roster of rotational players.
There is no pressure of commitment every week, yet it is sure to always be a full team when you’re ready to play.
In order to increase the frequency of games and match the demand, the RWFC applied for and won Newham council funding to establish a sustainable method for residents within the borough, which enabled them to get equipment and cover cost of the pitch.
Not only do Royal Wharf residents sustain a large amount of the 450 members, but people across the Newham borough now travel down to 3g AstroTurf at the Royal Docks Academy and in the summer use of Lyle Park is integrated.
Although it is hard to get access, Stephanie further explained: “I found RWFC through Facebook. I wasn’t looking for a mixed team at all, just a local team that was more than 5 aside.
“This team looked well organised and Marvin was really welcoming, so I’d thought I would give it a try, not sure what to expect.”
Generally, it is hard to find affordable, mixed teams to play in, either because they simply do not exist or are not supported financially.
This act of bringing the borough together through football represents the wider love of the game within the country.
Anyone can join the Royal Wharf football team, via their Facebook page. Where signup links are listed daily for the upcoming games: https://www.facebook.com/groups/royalwharffootballclub
Featured image credit: Credit – Dr Marvin Fried