The Middlesex FA Accredited Club of the Month for February 2022 is Harrow United, congratulations to everyone involved with the club.
Harrow United was founded in 2014 by husband-and-wife Mel and Mentesh Mentesh. Mel was a senior HR manager and Mentesh a retail store manager, but both had a passion for sport, fitness and well-being, and football was their joint passion.
Their son and nephew had started playing U8 football but finding the right club and quality of coaching in their local area was proving difficult. When they spoke to friends and family with young children in the local area, they discovered this was a familiar story for many. So after months of watching the boys and agonising over their long term development, they decided they could do it better…and that was the beginning of ‘Harrow Games’
Mentesh had played football his whole life and was qualified as an FA Level 2 coach, and as well as being as an avid football fan, Mel was a keen netball and hockey player.
They set up their first multi-activity Easter camp in 2014 at Claremont High school, and amazingly over 50 children between the ages of 4 and 11 attended, admittedly most of them their own children’s school friends and close family, but the camp very quickly became the talk of the town, with the early morning club in particular proving a real hit. Rugby, cricket, badminton, mini tennis, athletics, softball, rounders and quizzes were all offered, but football was always the most popular activity on offer.
The first term of football coaching followed, and in season 2014-15 the following ‘Harrow Games All Stars’ U7 and U9 team were entered into the Harrow combination, with Mentesh as U9 coach and Luke Peace, a teacher at Claremont running the U7’s. In their first season the U9’s won both the E and D division.
Club Director Mel, says this about the early days:
“The main-focus at the beginning was to make Harrow Games an inclusive club that not only offered the very best football coaching to players of all abilities, but also an opportunity for children from different backgrounds and cultures to play football. We discovered that many families were finding it difficult to find a club that catered for children that loved football, but were not at the level to play Sunday league…we welcomed these children to our club and found that with the right approach, they could be developed both technically and physically to eventually join a team.”
At the very youngest age group, we were the only club that welcomed 3-4 year olds to ‘proper’ football training and our Sunday morning Little Shooter session became a huge hit!
Fast forward 8 years, the clubs name has changed to ‘Harrow United FC, 10 teams play in the Sunday league, 100’s of children attend coaching each week and the club operates out of 3 venues in North-West London, however the club values of inclusivity and playing the game in a competitive and fair spirit remain.
The original U9 team have gone on to be the Harrow Youth League U15 premier division champions and have been recognised by being invited to represent North West London in the ‘Aces Nationals Tournament’
The future priority is to maintain our high standards and principles, and to make a real difference to the lives and wellbeing of local children, families and community as a whole.
The club work closely with a local school to support the sports and fitness programme along with UCFB, who’s students they support by offering them the opportunity to develop experience as they work towards becoming coaches and PE Teachers through the University. They are also supporting our drive to increase female participation by being a Weetabix Wildcats Provider.
On being an England Accredited Club, Mel says, “Being England accredited is vital for us. It recognises that we provide a safe, fun and inclusive environment by delivering football to the highest standard. We strive to be the best at what we do. It’s a measure of our work ethic.”
Mel went on to talk about what winning this award would mean to the club, she said, “Being a relatively new club on the scene and winning this award would be amazing. It highlights the dedication of our small team of young dynamic coaches who work tirelessly to plan and deliver sessions for all the children at the club. It shows how far we’ve come together and that all their hard work is being appreciated and acknowledged.”
“We love what we do and would be proud winners.”
During the pandemic the club worked hard to keep their players engaged, providing regular Zoom calls, implementing their ‘Online Football Workout’ that ran throughout he time they could not get out to do their normal training. The coaches each filmed themselves to provide sessions, made up of a mixture of fitness and ball mastery tasks helping to continue the player development through alternative means of training.
If you’re club does great work in the community, and you think they are deserving of the award, then make sure to nominate them to be in with a chance of being name March’s Accredited Club of the Month.