More than 150 youngsters from across Sussex took part in a unique football tournament last week as part of an initiative to help reduce youth crime and antisocial behaviour.
The Regional Summer Kicks tournament at Brighton’s Preston Park run by Albion in the Community (AITC) in partnership with Sussex Police and American Express brought together young people from AITC’s Kicks projects across the county.
The tournament was part of the wider national Premier League Kicks programme run locally by AITC.
The initiative gives young people between the ages of 13 to 19 in targeted, deprived areas of Sussex the chance to take part in free weekly football and sport sessions and also provides access to education and training opportunities for those taking part.
The Neighbourhood Policing Team and American Express volunteers were joined by Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne and Brighton and Hove Albion’s women’s players Jay Blackie, Faye Baker and Kirsty Barton to chat to the young people taking part in the games and present the winning trophies.
Volunteers from American Express supported the day by organising and refereeing matches with AITC coaches.
Martin Schooley, AITC’s inclusion manager, said: “The Kicks programme is all about giving young people the chance to play sport in a supportive, inclusive environment and promoting the values of respect and understanding.
“Today’s event was a great example of that and was a major success thanks to the support of the police and American Express.
“It was also the first time we have brought together young people from all of our Kicks projects across Sussex for something on this scale and it was great for them meet each other and take part in such a positive event.”
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “I am pleased to support Albion in the Community and the important work they are doing with the help of Sussex Police to educate young people through football and sport.
“I recently awarded grants from my Safer in Sussex Community Fund to support the Kicks initiative within local communities in Sussex and we have seen a positive impact on youth crime and anti-social behaviour in those communities as a direct result of the project.
“It was great to see many young people from those areas involved today.”
The Neighbourhood Policing Team took the opportunity to host workshops and invited participants to sign a special pledge to support their ‘White Ribbon campaign’, a global initiative supported by Sussex Police to help reduce domestic abuse and violence.
The pledge was also signed by Albion’s Inigo Calderon and Jay Blackie from the club’s women’s team.