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by Mihir Bose and Maxine Frith

Two top executives are spearheading a new charity project that aims to help inner-city youngsters achieve successful careers through football.

Tottenham Hotspur is one of two Premier League clubs which have been chosen by the Leadership Through Sport charity to harness the potential of local teenagers.

The first 30 youngsters started on the course this month at the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, the charitable arm of the club, as well as at Everton. They have been chosen for their love of football and will be coached and mentored by experts at the foundation.

The charitable project will also help them to attend local colleges where they will study business and academic subjects.

Leadership Through Sport is the brainchild of former CEO David Pinchin and his friend and Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill. Mr Pinchin retired as an executive in 2009 and has spent his time developing charitable projects, while Mr O’Neill is tipped to become the next governor of the Bank of England.

Mr Pinchin, who founded Tradition Financial Services and was chief operating officer of the international brokers Tradition, has raised £250,000 to fund the charity, including a £75,000 donation from Mr O’Neill.

The idea, said Mr Pinchin, is to “turn them into leaders of their communities, to use football along with business teaching to light the spark in these communities.”

Mr O’Neill added: “We are using football to reach out to inner-city areas. People in sport can use football to reshape lives. And I am glad Tottenham and Everton have bought into it. My background was working class. I went to a comprehensive in Wythenshawe which was then, and still is, an incredibly tough neighbourhood.

“For some of the lads I grew up with football was the only thing that inspired their life. Without it I do not know what would have happened to them. If kids from those kind of backgrounds can’t have that today I don’t know what else they’ve got. I know where I came from and I know I was lucky. I have a position in life where I don’t need the money for my own personal gain and I feel an obligation to contribute to society.

“I love football and I have strong belief in using whatever one can do to stimulate the minds of people who live in disadvantaged urban communities.” Mr Pinchin is in talks with Arsenal to extend the scheme.

“It gives hope”, says Malachi Alimi

Malachi Alimi, 20, lives in Hackney with his mother and is one of the students on the Tottenham Hotspur project.

He said: “I feel privileged as I know I was chosen from a significant number of candidates. The opportunity has allowed me to gain a highly recognised qualification in accountancy as well as being able to contribute in the community through sport.

“This opportunity allows me to support, and be an example in, the local community and young people I closely identify myself with.

“This project is very important as it gives young people the chance to have realistic role models and to be an example to them.

“It gives young people a chance to gain confidence and hope.”

      

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