Five children who were victims of racial abuse while playing football have won a thousand pounds for Kick It Out, the charity fighting racism and all forms of discrimination in the sport.

Twelve-year-old Ollie Holden from Bexleyheath and four classmates successfully pitched to an audience of more than 100 people, including the Mayor of Bexley, to win much-needed funds for football’s equality and inclusion organisation.

“We just want football to be a racism-free sport and for it to be friendly and enjoyable. Kick It Out were the perfect charity for us,” said Ollie.

Ollie, alongside Casey Abbot, Luca Sanford, Harry Felstead and Andrew Vaughn, beat off competition from eight other groups vying for money for their chosen charity at Hurstmere Secondary School in Sidcup, Kent.

The year 7 pupils were competing as part of the First Give programme, which encourages students to take action to tackle social issues.

Students choose a subject which is important to them before selecting a charity working in that area to represent.

Working with more than 30,000 children, the scheme awarded £165,000 worth of grants to charities during the 2017/18 academic year.

“As a class we decided what charity we wanted to choose and we all agreed on a football charity. The whole class loves football,” said Ollie, who supports Leyton Orient.

“Then we decided the best group as a class and it was my group. From that, we made a presentation and rehearsed until we were perfect.”

Ollie and several of his friends have been victims of racist abuse while playing football – and not just from opposition players.

“These children are 11 years old and we’ve also had parents saying racist names to children, which was shocking,” said Ollie’s mum Lara.

“If the children are 11 years old, it’s coming from somewhere this attitude.”

Ollie added: “I’m personally a mad football fan. When I’ve played football before I have been called racist names and so have my team mates.

“It’s really upsetting; we play football to enjoy it. It gets competitive but there’s no need for horrible names.”

To support the boys, Kick It Out sent t-shirts and pin badges for them to wear during their presentation, as well as a flag to provide an eye-catching backdrop.

They were marked on their presentation skills and answers to tough questions from the eight-person judging panel, eventually winning by just two points.

“It was amazing,” said Ollie.

“We couldn’t stop smiling; we were over the moon. it’s the most money I’ve ever held.”

Lara added: “I’m so proud of the boys, they were so nervous beforehand, but they practiced so much and did so much research. It was very slick.

“They deserved it because they all worked really hard and it’s something they all felt really passionate about.”

To say thanks, Kick It Out are now planning for our Education Officer, ex-Premier League footballer Osei Sankofa, to visit Hurstmere School to meet the boys and deliver and educational assembly on equality and diversity. 

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