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19 July 2010
SOUTHWARK footballer Afolabi Coker followed in the footsteps of Rio Ferdinand, Ledley King and Ashley Cole by starring at the Balfour Beatty London Youth Games.
Coker, who like Ferdinand hails from Peckham, captained Southwark to victory as they overcame Brent in the five-a-side football final.
The Harris Academy schoolboy, fourteen, impressed as Southwark scored fifteen goals throughout the tournament, conceding only three in the process, and Coker was quick to hail the team effort.
He said: "I'm very proud of the rest of the boys - we played some good stuff on the way to the final and then scored a good goal in the final to win it 2-1. "We went one up but then conceded a penalty when one of our players stepped into the area. But we did well to come back from that and to win the gold medal is reward for the hard world we have put it.
"Brent were tough in the final but we knew they would be but I think we deserved to win in the end. "There were a couple of new teams who we hadn't played before which was good and it was a great experience."
There was also success for Southwark swimmer Sophie Simpson who scooped gold in the 50m butterfly.
The 14-year-old from Upland Road came first in a time of 30.59seconds and the Charter School pupil was delighted to break her duck at Europe's largest youth sports event.
She said: "I have been to the London Youth Games before and never won a medal so I was not expecting to win.
"I felt confident before the race. I got a good start which helped me and I was really pleased when I saw my time and realised that I had won.
"We had a very strong team this year and we all help each other to do well. "Hopefully I will be able to come back and swim again next year."
Those results propelled Southwark to a nineteenth place finish out of 33 London boroughs that were going head-to-head across seventeen different sports at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.
Balfour Beatty is committed to helping raise the aspirations, motivation and attainment levels of young people in the communities in which it operates and has committed at least £1.7 million to help develop the London Youth Games until 2013.
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