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'It shocked the country but when you know the streets and people it's a different kind of feeling': Detective reveals inspiring reason he set up Grenfell United football tournament

Rasheed Alawiye along with his three friends came up with the idea of a football tournament after the terrible events of June

A police detective came up with the incredible idea to launch Grenfell United after feeling "compelled" to help the residents of the Grenfell Tower disaster .

The charity football tournament, which took place on July 22 with the help of Arsenal Football Club, raised almost £4,000 with all donations being sent to the Clement James Centre, which has been at the forefront of the relief effort in west London.

Rasheed Alawiye, 42, who organised the event, along with the support of Connor Durnell, Scott Innes and Joseph Charm praised the "phenomenal response" of the participants.

Ten teams that took part in the event helped smash the group's initial target of £1,500, putting in donations of £50-£100 to help them achieve an incredible £3,965.

Grenfell United tournament participants with Arsenal shirts

When asked why he came up with the idea Mr Alawiye said: “I use to live a stone 's throw away from Grenfell.

"There was a massive feeling within me and my family to do whatever we could to try and help them.

“I used to play football and have friends in the area. We used to play football just in front of the tower. It was my conscience really.

“I came up with the idea of the football team and I put it into my whats app group and spoke about raising money for the Grenfell disaster and for the residents.

“The response was brilliant. They said they would support it. Then I appointed three friends from my group, so the four of us came up with the idea of setting up this tournament.

“That was when we got in contact with Arsenal and they were incredible. From that we knew we had a good venue."

The disaster struck a cord with many people around the country but for the 42-year-old it had another meaning all together.

“It shocked me and it shocked the country but when you know the streets and the estate and know people in the area it is a different kind of feeling than it is to a news report," he explained.

“That is how it was to me but because I am a police officer I have seen a lot of things from murder to terrible fires but when I went down to visit the area and see the tower I felt for the people in the area.

“Because for some of them when they look out your window that building is staring you in the face.

“It is such an imposing thing in the area. It is a giant tombstone.”

Two survivors of the fire, Nicholas Burton and Tiago Alves gave speeches on the day at the Arsenal Hub, and the event is now set to be held annually.

Mr Alawiye sang Arsenal's praises, for their great work throughout the organisation of the event and what he hopes it can bring in the future.

“I had a list of clubs I was going to reach out to. The connection we have with Arsenal is I am an Arsenal fan even though I was brought up in West London," he said.

(Image: PA)

“Ian Wright was a hero of mine. I got in contact with them not expecting a response. I told them about the tournament and asked if we can use their facilities.

“Arsenal responded immediately the same day. Emma Wells and Dean Miller were great. They co-ordinated everything and we ended up having a fantastic day.

“Because of the success of the first one we will be looking to do another event. Clement James Centre, the charity who we did the fundraising for, have done loads of work for the area.

“Even before the disaster, they helped young people to get back on their feet, either through education or a job.

“This event linked to the charity and to Grenfell it was a very special day. Residents came down to speak at the tournament.

Nicholas Burton, who survived the fire(Image: PA)

"We had one who came (Mr Burton) who he and his family manage to escape from the 19th floor. His wife is still in hospital now. He was thanking everyone for their efforts.

"The amount we raised was not a life changing amount but it showed people care and it meant getting ready cash.

“A lot of people have been fundraising across the country but it may take a long time before families can have access to it.

“So we took our time to find the right fundraising page and with the charity as well."

But the tournament was not the only thing that showed people cared. Arsenal also rewarded all players who played, along with their family and friends, with tickets to the pre-season competition the Emirates Cup.

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