Saturday, 19 June 2021

Recent meetings and events of charities and community groups

AFC Henley was one of the first Henley groups to establish a sporting twinning link with Leichlingen over 30 years

AFC Henley was one of the first Henley groups to establish a sporting twinning link with Leichlingen over 30 years ago and exchanges have taken place annually ever since.

This year was no exception, when a group of U13s and parents from SC Leichlingen arrived during the October half-term break as guests of the club.

This year the two U13 teams met on the Friday evening on Jubilee Park’s new Rhino Turf to compete for the Dukes Shield. Henley ran out easy winners, mainly because the Leichlingen players have not yet moved up to 11-a-side from 9-a-side and smaller pitches.

However, in a six-a-side tournament the following morning, with the limited playing area more to their liking, SC Leichlingen exacted their revenge and carried off the Friendship Shield.

On the Saturday afternoon, at the invitation of Group Events at Reading Football Club, the young German and Henley players visited the Madejski Stadium, making an appearance on the pitch in front of the home crowd during the game against Millwall.

Hendrik Scheler, the SC Leichlingen coach, said the German youngsters all thought the trip to the match was fantastic, especially being able to get so close to the pitch and the players, and that they would be “going home with 12 new Reading fans”. Henley Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak and Carol Crowdy, of the Henley-Leichlingen Twinning Association, attended the match on the Friday and a reception at the Triangle Ground in Mill Lane after the game.

A farewell party was held on the Saturday evening at Henley Cricket Club, attended by Henley Deputy Mayor Martin Akehurst and representatives of the association.

At Easter it will be AFC Henley’s U13s’ turn to travel to Leichlingen to take part in the annual Osterturnier (Easter tournament), which attracts teams from a wide area, and to compete separately with SC Leichlingen for the Goossens Trophy.

Dieter Hinke, chairman of AFC Henley, said: “It was great to see teenagers from both towns not only competing on the pitch but cementing relationships off the pitch.

“A number of Henley families are now sold on the concept of ‘twinning’ and plan to get more involved with the twinning association’s wider twinning activities.”

The Henley-Leichlingen Twinning Association was founded in 1979 with the aim of fostering friendship and understanding between the people of Henley and those of Leichlingen, a small town situated on the River Wupper in the Rhineland.

Regular group exchange visits are arranged and other visits, especially by young people, are encouraged so as to broaden the understanding of the sporting, musical, educational and commercial activities of the two communities.

Visitors in both directions usually stay with families in the town and many firm friendships have developed as a result. Knowledge of the German language is not essential, although it can make visits more rewarding and enjoyable.

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