Young footballers from across west London held a minute’s silence at a tournament in Hayes to remember those who have died as victims of violent crime this year.
Fifty players from Ealing , Hounslow and Hillingdon took part in the KickOff@3 football tournament on Saturday (May 12), backed by three borough councils and the newly formed west London policing organisation, the West Area Borough Command Unit .
Players and supporters stood together on the pitch at Goals in Hayes, observing a minute’s silence to commemorate more than 60 alleged victims of violent crime who have died in London this year alone.
A team of police officers from West Area BCU took part in the tournament along with teams from Villiers and Dormers Wells High Schools in Southall , West Thames College in Isleworth and Watford FC Community Sport and Education.
Ricky Kandohla, Acting Superintendent for Neighbourhood Policing West Area BCU, described the KickOff@3 project as an effort to establish long-lasting relationships between young people and local police officers
“Within the west area it is important to ensure that we engage with our youth and being able to break down some of those relationships that may have existed between them and the police," he said.
“The event highlights the importance of investing time into our youth and stops young people from becoming involved in minor crime or serious crime.
"This event clearly focuses on building those relationships within the communities and equally allows us to ensure that we stop young kids becoming victims of any type of crime across London and the West Area. This is also a great way of diverting youth from knife crime.”.
The initiative is in its second year, with many police forces holding football tournaments in London, Hertfordshire, the West Midlands and Northern Ireland.
KickOff@3 was established by Met PC Michael Wallace and Ashley Levien who runs his own social inclusion project called ‘Suberbos Community’.
The Met’s Black Police Association have been the main supporters of the project since its inception, assisting with travel expenses and trophies for the young people.
Ashley Levien said: “KickOff@3 is a powerful initiative that brings young people from all walks of life together and gets them involved in something positive whilst engaging with and breaking down barriers between their local police forces and those in a position of authority, which I believe makes us quite unique, especially in today’s climate.
“The charity awareness and fundraising aspect of KickOff@3 is the cherry on the cake, this doesn’t just give the many young people that we engage with the opportunity to gain valuable insight and knowledge into the various health and wellbeing issues that many people are currently going through, it also allows them to give back financially, helping each charity continue the great work they’re doing.
"KickOff@3 isn’t just a community initiative, we are a growing family that want change within our communities and we believe we can make a difference.”
For more information about the initiative visit www.kickoffat3.co.uk or on Twitter follow @KickOffAt3.