Please click here to view the original ReachOut! London blog post from which the text below was taken.

April 2010

A couple of weeks ago we took 31 ReachOut! boys on tour to Madrid, as a reward for their hard work throughout the year. The boys represented the three ReachOut FC under 14s teams, who have had an exceptional season, winning the Hackney Youth League and the East London & Essex Junior Football League, and are still vying for more cup glory. More impressive than their exploits on the pitch, the ReachOut! under 14s have shown a great attitude to their studies, all improving in recent tests and participating in group discussions. This group even subsidised their own trip to Spain by organising the ReachOut! Charity Cup.

We left for Spain in high spirits on Monday 12th April, expecting to spend four days basking in the sun and playing exhibition matches against our Spanish counterparts. In one hotly contested battle Kenneth Koranteng collided with the opposition and was rushed to hospital to find his season had come to an abrupt end because of a broken leg.
On Wednesday we returned to the hotel with two victories and a draw, to news of Manchester Airport’s closure and Heathrow’s apparent engulfment by the ash cloud! Luckily British Airways were kind enough to put us up in a hotel for the remainder of our stay.
With rescheduled flights being cancelled repeatedly, fast running out of money and the group missing home, we phoned Jeremy Corbyn, the local MP of some of the boys. Mr Corbyn negotiated with the Foreign Office for the whole ReachOut! group to board the HMS Albion on Tuesday 20th April!
The HMS Albion, which was carrying a 400 strong battalion of soldiers returning from Afghanistan, was the highlight of the trip for many of the boys. We were treated to breakfast, lunch and dinner. Entertainment was found through circuit training with a Drill Sergeant, playing cards with soldiers (not for money luckily for them) and Pro-Evolution Soccer tournaments. The soldiers gave up their beds and sleeping bags to ensure the boys had a good night’s sleep, and Kenneth had the run of the ship thanks to piggy-backs from Royal Marines!
The exhausted under 14s returned to Hackney on Wednesday night, delighted to be home. A true adventure was found in adversity.
-Jack Bond

We left for Spain in high spirits on Monday 12th April, expecting to spend four days basking in the sun and playing exhibition matches against our Spanish counterparts. In one hotly contested battle Kenneth Koranteng collided with the opposition and was rushed to hospital to find his season had come to an abrupt end because of a broken leg.

On Wednesday we returned to the hotel with two victories and a draw, to news of Manchester Airport’s closure and Heathrow’s apparent engulfment by the ash cloud! Luckily British Airways were kind enough to put us up in a hotel for the remainder of our stay.

With rescheduled flights being cancelled repeatedly, fast running out of money and the group missing home, we phoned Jeremy Corbyn, the local MP of some of the boys. Mr Corbyn negotiated with the Foreign Office for the whole ReachOut! group to board the HMS Albion on Tuesday 20th April!

The HMS Albion, which was carrying a 400 strong battalion of soldiers returning from Afghanistan, was the highlight of the trip for many of the boys. We were treated to breakfast, lunch and dinner. Entertainment was found through circuit training with a Drill Sergeant, playing cards with soldiers (not for money luckily for them) and Pro-Evolution Soccer tournaments. The soldiers gave up their beds and sleeping bags to ensure the boys had a good night’s sleep, and Kenneth had the run of the ship thanks to piggy-backs from Royal Marines!

The exhausted under 14s returned to Hackney on Wednesday night, delighted to be home. A true adventure was found in adversity.

-Jack Bond