IN ORDER TO address the startling gang culture mentality and knife crime issues affecting communities, the Hedgecock Community Centre in Barking, in partnership with the Barking Youth Link, hosted a successful ‘United Against Knife Crime’ football tournament.
The tournament took place at the Barking Abbey School football grounds and aimed to raise awareness of knife crime as well as various youth services available within the Borough. The tournament was an initiative to inspire young people to aspire towards greater success in life and to build social cohesion in order to avert tensions between various youth.
The aim for the day was for young people to understand the serious and devastating effects of carrying knives. During short talks the participants were given alternative avenues they could use to explore and talk about their concerns in safety – even anonymously, should they feel the need.
The event itself was hugely successful as youngsters from various backgrounds, ages, races and ethnicities came together to showcase their footballing talents. There was a total of 100 footballers from the wider community and in attendance were several community leaders including Councillors, the Safer Neighbourhood Team, Fearless.org, Future Youth Zone and the residents of the community at large.
The weather was perfect for a day of football matches and spectators were treated to BBQ foods, refreshments, free access to the trampoline park and an amazing showcasing of Muay Thai martial arts by father and son team Shiraz and his nine year old son Yasin. The day concluded with a prize ceremony for the winning teams across two separate age categories – Future Youth Zone and Eastbury Community Association.
Yusuf Khan, Chair of the Hedgecock Community Centre, said, “As Londoners we are currently witnessing a huge problem that is affecting young people today, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, who resort to solve their differences over the most trivial matters through violence and the carrying of knives. This has resulted in precious young lives being tragically lost.
“As a community we support our law enforcement services fully and at the same time we have taken it upon ourselves to educate the community. Today has been a great example of how to raise awareness.”