Former Wingate defender Williams is empowering young people with sports

Rene Steer and Ola Williams (Pic: Sporting Kids)

Rene Steer and Ola Williams (Pic: Sporting Kids) - Credit: Archant

Former Wingate & Finchley player Ola Williams is championing a healthy pathway for children with a multi-sports company, Sporting Kids which he co-founded in 2018 with former Arsenal prospect and best friend Rene Steer.

Ola Williams training one of the youngsters (Pic: Sporting Kids)

Ola Williams training one of the youngsters (Pic: Sporting Kids) - Credit: Archant

The initiative is positively changing children’s lives in a fun environment and has been designed to create opportunities and influence both their physical and mental wellbeing.

The experienced defender, 31, grew up with the sole option of football and Williams is changing the narrative and utilising beneficiary advantages that come through other sports for youngsters in the north London and Hertfordshire areas.

“Sporting Kids is all about reaching out to kids, keeping them fit and getting the youth off the streets,” he said.

“During the pandemic more kids are suffering from mental health. It’s developed massively from where we were. We work with kids in primary, secondary, special educational needs schools and kids from the local areas to get them off the streets.

Ola Williams in goal (Pic: Khalid Karimmullah)

Ola Williams in goal (Pic: Khalid Karimmullah) - Credit: Archant

“We need to be role models and show these kids the way, because once a kid has nobody to look up to, they are going to steer in the wrong direction. I make sure I get to know the kids and if they have anything on their mind, they can always come to me.

“If I find someone who hasn’t done a certain sport, I’ll encourage them to try it out and once they do, they enjoy it. It brings a smile to their face and my face to know that they are happy.”

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Williams is forever grateful to the late, great Cuthbert Martin who steered him in the right direction. He said he wouldn’t be the player, coach or person he is today without the avenues that Martin brought to fruition.

“He’s played a big part. He even plays a big part today because some of the fundamentals he taught us, I still keep with me and apply them to Sporting Kids,” he said.

Ola Williams of Wingate & Finchley (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Ola Williams of Wingate & Finchley (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo) - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

“Having discipline and getting them to open up. If a kid is out on the streets, just having a talk with them about what to do in life and what not to do.

“Cuthbert’s helped me a lot and what he did for the young kids in the north west/north London area was phenomenal in terms of keeping them off the streets and into football.

“He was a father figure to a lot of kids in the area. Cuthbert brought the whole community together. A lot of people knew about the club Pinnacle Youth. A lot of people wanted to play for the club and a lot of parents trusted Cuthbert.

“He was such a local character and he always made sure we did things right in life, not just football and I just thank him for it.

Dernell Wynter of Potters Bar and Ola Williams of Wingate & Finchley during Wingate & Finchley vs Po

Dernell Wynter of Potters Bar and Ola Williams of Wingate & Finchley during Wingate & Finchley vs Potters Bar Town, Bostik League Premier Division Football at the Harry Abrahams Stadium on 23rd March 2019 - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

“Nothing comes easy in life and that’s the way he taught us. Even with racism, Pinnacle Youth was a multi-cultural team but majority a black team. We would receive the odd racial comment, but he always taught us to rise above it, don’t let them win. He said you need to have tough skin and don’t let people bring you down.

“I’m not going to tell you that I haven’t seen what’s gone on in the streets. I may have lived it, seen it. Football was everyone’s get out. We see what goes on in the streets and the kids don’t have places to go to do their sports and what that does is cause havoc. We enable them to express themselves and see different types of sports.”

The versatile full-back has enjoyed success in his own football career which has included a treble trophy-winning season with Wingate & Finchley in 2010/11.

Williams is aware of all the effervescent experiences that sport creates and heaped praise on co-founder Steer for his influence.

He said: “It’s taught me a lot of knowledge and how to apply myself. I love to give words of wisdom and I always want them to do better than what I’ve done in life. I try to encourage and give them advice in general beyond football, the same way Cuthbert taught me.

“Rene’s been good, we’ve been best friends for a long time. There wouldn’t be no Sporting Kids without either one of us. I give him so much credit and we both inspire each other to do greater things.”

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