There was a time where grassroots football was a one-stop shop for scouts across the country looking for the next big thing.
The likes of former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright was plucked from London’s sprawling Hackney Marshes, where over 80 full-size pitches play host to local dreamers every Sunday.
But the world is getting smaller, and our major cities are getting bigger. Hackney Marshes remains, but rapid urban expansion is eating up the free spaces which could once be used for purpose-built fields.
Wright may well have been spotted while banging in goal after goal in organised, 11-a-side games, but it was the informal backdrop of South London’s cages where he had honed his skills.
The talent-spotters have now taken note, and a new generation of modern superstar has emerged from the confined, informal games found in South London’s enclosed playing areas. From Jadon Sancho and Joe Gomez to Ademola Lookman and Reiss Nelson, the cages are now the breeding ground from which the new generation has emerged.
GOAL STUDIO headed to South London to find out more.