Tuesday 25th March 2014
A young man who turned his life around after becoming involved in gangs was among Royal Borough residents honoured in the Civic Awards recently.
Nkemjika Eka, from Abbey Wood, won the young achiever award for his work with Charlton Athletic Community Trust, earning coaching badges and volunteering to coach others.
The 18 year old spent a couple of seasons playing in Charlton’s academy before a back injury ended his playing days at 15.
The disappointment proved destructive and Nkemjika fell into a world of crime and gangs.
Through the Trust’s crime reduction programme, he has turned his life around, carrying out a 12-week period as a volunteer and taking level 1 and 2 coaching qualifications. Now he is a volunteer on his gap year ahead of going to Kent Medway in September to study sports and exercise management.
Nkemjika said, “When I got my injury, my dream of playing professional football collapsed. Because I felt that dream was gone I started going the wrong way. I basically lashed out because I was angry at the world, but it wasn’t the world that got me injured.”
Nkemjika still suffers with a lower back injury medics cannot seem to solve yet still harbours hopes of playing if he can ever get to the bottom of it.
Over the past year he has shown dedication in working and helping vulnerable young people in the community, coaching youngsters and talking to them about his experiences.
“I’m teaching basic skills to people aged 12-18 – some of them are even older than me,” he said. “I’ve made one or two speeches to young people about football and the other side of life that they shouldn’t get involved in.”
Matt Horne, Youth Service Parnership Manager, added, “Nkemjika is an example of a young person who has come through a turbulent period and taken advantage of the many opportunities available to young people through our partnership with Royal Greenwich and other agencies. Nkemjika is a credit to himself and his family. We at the Trust are very proud of him and will continue to support him through his development.”