Getting a kick out of life! Football club helps tackle youth violence through sport

Helping fight the lack of opportunities locally and the influences of gangs

No matter how many times someone in an authority position tells a young person what to do, it’s very likely they’ll do the opposite.

So, when it comes to helping them, we need more creative ways to get them engaged and feel connected so they can learn for themselves.  

And one man has turned life guru to do just this, by starting a football club to tackle youth violence and disenfranchised teens.

Wanting more than just a standard club for a kick about, Bobby Kasanga founded Hackney Wick Football Club to unite the local diverse groups.

Having fought his own demons in the past, he wanted a community whereby people would not only be accepted but could also help combat peer pressure.

The club does this by offering educational workshops, mentoring and work opportunities, which actively engage with those already tied-up with gangs, or those on-the-brink of gang life, and those who might not be aware of the threats out there as a safeguarding tool.

Since hatching into the world in 2015, Hackney’s first semi-professional footie club in nearly a century has a whopping 160 youths and 70 adults involved.

They boast 16 youth teams, plus sessions for kids with additional needs, as well as being home to two adult teams.

Speaking about why he believes it’s so crucial for residents, Bobby ­– a former semi-pro player – says it’s because of the lack of opportunities locally and the influences of gangs.

He explained: “I succumbed to a life of crime and was subsequently imprisoned on two occasions in my late teens and early 20s.

“However, this experience, although at the time was upsetting and harmful turned out to be a blessing. During my incarceration, on the second occasion, I wrote two novels (published in 2014 and 2015) and also studied for a degree in criminology and social policy.

“It was while studying this subject that I finally understood that although crime was my choice, there were undying factors through social impacts and the surrounding influences that attributed to my behaviour.”

Bobby added: “The main thing being, not enough positive male role models, lack of opportunities and closure and abolishment of youth activities or expensive and limited access.

“I met so many talented people in prison who inspired me and had gone through the same path as mine.”

Within two months of his release from behind bars in February 2015, Bobby started his club which now engages hundreds of people each and every week.

The community club flourishes from members and players who volunteer their services through the sheer love of the beautiful game (and, of course, the love of their community) as they provide free coaching or help at various events for east Londoners to come along and support.

We’re thinking of signing up for their female team…

For more info, click here: Hackney Wick Football Club.

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