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Barbados' football talent get a boost from football ace

GOOD TIMES: Blackman (back row) with local youngsters

THE life of Walter Tull, one of the very first black professional footballers in the world, will be celebrated in Barbados this month thanks to the continued charity work of professional footballer, Nick Blackman. 

Tull, whose father was from Barbados, played for Tottenham Hotspur and Northampton Town in a career that started in 1908 and finished in 1914. He was also the first black officer in the British Army to lead white soldiers. 

The pioneer’s life will be celebrated at the Nick Blackman Football Friendship Festival on June 15 at the Pinelands Youth Soccer Academy based in the poorest area of the island.

The idea is the brainchild of Blackman, a footballer with Barbadian roots who has spent the season on loan from Derby County at Sporting Gijon in Spain. The 29-year-old feels passionately about helping young people on the island and also raising awareness of Tull’s life and connection with Barbados. 

In 2017, Blackman organised a shirt appeal that saw hundreds of donations to support young people on the island without kit to play in, before the inaugural Walter Tull Memorial Cup last year that was attended by young people, the local community, politicians and senior football administrators. 

It is the third year that Blackman has partnered with the highly respected Pinelands Youth Soccer Academy in Barbados who are delivering life changing work, using the power of football to inspire young people in the community.

 Ahead of the football festival Nick Blackman said: “It is wonderful to be in a position to deliver some work in Barbados that helps young people from communities who require support, while also sharing the inspirational story of Walter Tull.

“This is the third year I’ve been working with the fantastic people at Pinelands Youth Soccer Academy. It’s hard to find the words to praise what they do highly enough. They are quite literally changing lives. I’m delighted to partner with them. 

“To anyone reading this now, if you haven’t already, I would encourage you to check out Tull’s story and also read about the brilliant people of Pinelands in Barbados and the way football is making a difference to communities here.

I’m proud to play my part in what they are doing.”

ALL SMILES: The Pinelands Youth Soccer Academy team, (l to r) Errol Blackman, Renee 'Nicole' Smith and Fernando 'Burga' Best

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