Barkingside football club welcomes Mayor, before testing his penalty skills

The Mayor visits Shield football academy and trains with the youngsters

The Mayor visits Shield football academy and trains with the youngsters - Credit: Archant

The Mayor of Redbridge put his penalty taking to the test when he visited a Barkingside football academy on Saturday.

Shield Academy, in Virginia Gardens, which first opened in 2007 with “15 players and a bag of balls”, welcomed Cllr Muhammed Javed who spoke with the teams about their dedication to the sport.

The academy now has more than 180 players ranging from under six’s to adults, and the club are hoping to introduce a girls team next season.

Richard Jones, coach and youth development officer, said: “We had an absolutely brilliant day with Mayor, who gave us so much of his time and even took some penalties. He told us that he was really impressed with the club’s facilities and the diversity of our players.

“He spoke to the teams about their education and the importance of social activities as well as giving 100 per cent to whatever you choose to do.”

Shield Academy has already had three players picked up by professional clubs including Leyton Orient, Chelsea FC and Queen’s Park Rangers.