Bees defender and Welsh International Chris Mepham took part in the nationwide One World campaign at Brentford Towers housing estate yesterday. The campaign, which commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the ending of World War One, was created by internationally acclaimed artist Mark Wallinger and aimed to highlight the importance of peace and community cohesion.
Inspired by the famous Christmas truce of 1914, when soldiers from both sides emerged from the trenches and met in No Man’s Land to exchange gifts and play football, Wallinger has designed a number of footballs that represent the globe of the world and world peace.
With MPs, school children and community groups taking part in the initiative across the country, Chris Mepham chose a very special location to mark the centenary. The 21-year-old joined children from the Hounslow Street Sports project at Brentford Towers –situated moments away from Brentford’s stadium. The project, run by Brentford FC Community Sports Trust and Hounslow Housing, encourages young people to make positive life choices through a range of free sporting activities.
Speaking at the event, Chris Mepham, who is also an ambassador for the club’s Community Sports Trust, said: “It is great to see so many children come out and join us for the One World campaign tonight. Brentford FC has always prided itself on its community values and I can’t think of a better place to hold this event – situated between Brentford’s current stadium and the new stadium being built.”
Established in 2010 in partnership with Hounslow Housing, Hounslow Street Sports has been credited with promoting healthy lifestyles and reducing anti-social behaviour amongst young people. This year alone, the project has supported more than 1,000 young people across the borough.
And 12-year-old Isis, who lives in Brentford Towers, has certainly reaped the benefits of the project: “What I love about this project is that it’s friendly and open – anyone who lives on the estate can attend. As a girl, it is great that I can play football so near to where I live – I have noticed more and more girls have started to attend this session now.”
Mark Wallinger, who won the Turner prize in 2007, believes football can play an important role in world peace:
He said: “It is 100 years since the Armistice was agreed in 1918, and 50 years since the Earthrise photograph was taken on Christmas Eve 1968. One World is my contribution to the legacy of those precious moments – spreading a message of peace for the world. Time to stop fighting and start playing. Playing the beautiful game. Let’s take that image of a precious and fragile world into the future and celebrate the joy of playing together.”