Albrighton and Clark lend helping hand
Aston Villa players Marc Albrighton and Ciaran Clark paid a visit to British Military Martial Arts (BMMA) in Sutton Coldfield as they delivered new kits to the children.
England Under-21 international Albrighton and Republic of Ireland international Clarke observed a BMMA session before making the presentation, and the players were impressed with what they saw.
Clark said: "It's brilliant! We fully support it. It's great to see that the kids come here and get top-drawer discipline, respect, confidence, fitness and martial art training, and they love it! It's the sort of programme that you will see a reflection of what they get here in their behaviour at school and at home."
Despite having only launched in January 2011, the BMMA centre now boasts 45 pupils every week, headed up by Dan Berry - formerly of Royal Green Jackets, Reconnaissance Platoon - and Albrighton can play a role in getting young people engaged in exercise and off the streets.
"It'll play a huge role," Albrighton added. "This gives kids the chance to stay off the streets, be part of something really special where there is always a goal or target coming up for them, learn about self defence and respect. And, most importantly, you can see how much fun they have. It's spot on.
"And from doing things like that, we can appreciate how difficult it is doing this sort of thing. So these starting at such a young age and progressing gradually in a fun focused environment is perfect for them."
Berry was delighted that the Premier League duo took time out of their schedules to visit the BMMA centre and is confident the visit will spur on the children involved.
"I'm over the moon with the lads taking time out to come down and make a fuss of the kids and to hand out their uniforms," Berry said. "They strongly support, as they've said, the way in which we run this academy, and hopefully we'll continue to work closely with Aston Villa as the academy gets stronger and stronger."
BMMA (www.britishmilitarymartialarts.co.uk) was founded in 2008 by ex-paratrooper and World Association of Kickboxing Organisation (WAKO) Pro European champion Lee Matthews.
The organisation enlists some of the most highly-trained individuals who have served with the British military forces in order to combine the martial arts syllabus - including boxing, karate, kung-fu, tae kwon do, ju-jitsu and MMA - with fun and structured sessions.
Matthews - one of the best-known martial artists in the UK for his success as a competitor and his business acumen - is a six-time WAKO British champion and one-time WAKO Pro-European champion. Having received training from the likes of former boxing world champion Richie Woodhall, Brazilian Ju-jitsu world champion Bralio Estima, and world kickboxing champions Drew Neal and the Winsper Family, Matthews has gone on to become 4th Dan in Sport Karate, 4th Dan in Kickboxing and 1st Dan in Karate.
The 34-year-old spent seven years in the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute regiment, undertaking operations in Northern Ireland and Kosovo and training and working as a physical training instructor, and in the West Midlands alone Lee's organisation teaches over 1,000 students as well as tutoring nine world champions.