Is Junior the next Karlan Ahearne-Grant?

Friday 24th October 2014

Every Thursday evening the CACT deliver a football session on the Barnfield estate as part of the Royal Greenwich Targeted Programme partnered the Royal Greenwich Integrated Youth Support team. This session has been going for several years and offers positive outcomes and pathways to training, accreditation and employment.

The Barnfield estate is a very deprived area in Plumstead. According to government statistics the estate has been recorded as being one of the most deprived areas in the country. The young people whom CACT engage with face challenges with criminal gang members, drug dealers and other bad influences. Whilst the football CACT provide is a great positive activity, building relationships and providing other activities are important. The young people that CACT work with from estate have limited opportunities within their area to try out new activities.

One particular young person, Junior Banjoko is a great example how CACT and The Youth Support Team engage with young people and help them to provide activities they are limited to, not just within their area but outside of their comfort zone also.

The relationships built up between the Youth & CACT staff & the young people from the estate over many years has given us the opportunity to develop and continue to provide the support and activities that the young people require. On this occasion Junior’s story proves the opportunities the CACT coach and Youth staff offer just doesn’t provide fun but helps with the young people’s confidence to try activities outside their area, improve their interaction skills and to progress their abilities at a higher level.

Junior started coming to the Barnfield session a few years back and straight away the CACT staff could see he was a talented young footballer. Junior loves football; if he isn’t playing it he is talking about it or talking about playing for his school, if he isn’t the first one in the ball court on a Thursday he is the last one to leave. 

“I love football, I like playing at the ball court. When Anthony asked me to go to CAFC Advance Centre I haven’t stopped telling my friends and family. I cannot wait to start” Junior said.

He has progressed so much, that CACT coaching staff fell it’s the right time to progress him a step further and into the CACF Advance Centre. CACT coach Anthony McCluskey had this to say about his potential, “Junior has fantastic football ability to go further at a higher level. I have recommended him to CACT Advance Centre to see if he can up his game against technically better players which will improve Junior”.

The CACT Advance Centre is a project ran at The CAFC Training Ground, Sparrows Lane New Eltham that started many years ago in which young people from the community programmes are spotted and recommended by CACT coaches to try and go that step further. From then the young people get a chance to go even further by joining the CAFC youth academy where 20% of the young players where firstly spotted on CACT programmes.

CAFC star Karlan Ahearne-Grant was a prodigy of the Advanced Centre and has gone on to make 3 apperances for Charlton Athletic this season at just 17. It shows a great pathway into professional football and time will tell whether Junior Banjoko can do the same.

Read more about Karlan Ahearne-Grants' debut here