Changing Lives FC at heart of Essex Police football tournament

Communities / Sat 23rd Jul 2022 at 01:36pm

TWO hundred and sixty young footballers enjoyed the glorious sunshine in Great Baddow to compete in Essex Community Goals, a tournament organised by Essex Police.

Twenty-five teams from all over the county competed in the 7-a-side event which gave youngsters from a wide range of backgrounds and footballing abilities the opportunity to get active and interact with the police in a fun and informal setting.

Hutton FC took home the trophy in the 15 to 16-year-old age group after beating ATF Southend 2-0. The 13 to 14-year-olds’ tournament was won by Sandy Colts from Chelmsford who beat Brentwood’s Nice Booters on penalties after their game ended 1-1.

Every player who took part got a medal, goody bag and lunch, with all profits from the event going to charity partners the Active Essex Foundation who are launching a sport and youth crime prevention project.

The day was supported by supermarkets Tesco and Morrisons, BL Sound and Light, and venue hosts the Eastern Junior Alliance youth football league.

Amongst the bumper crowd were Chelmsford City and ex-Premier League striker Simeon Jackson, and PC Olivia Smith, a former England U19 defender who plays for Ipswich Town Ladies when she’s not keeping the streets of Grays safe. Both were keen to pass on their experience to the players involved.

Chief Superintendent Claire Talbot presented the trophies to the winners and said the event was key to breaking down barriers between young people and the police.

“Our officers love engaging with young people and it’s so important they see a different side to police officers. Yes, we’re there to catch criminals but we’re also there to help people, to engage and we want people to feel safe and happy to come and talk to us.

“Everyone has gone away happy, with a medal, goody bag and vouchers to watch Chelmsford City Football Club. It’s been an amazing day and everyone’s had an absolutely fantastic time.

“Even if one child from today goes away thinking differently and more positively about the police then it’ll have been a huge success.”

One of the teams competing were Changing Lives from Harlow – a side comprising of refugees and migrants from countries including Sudan, Eritrea, Morocco, and Egypt.

Their manager David Simmons said that interacting with the police gave members of his team confidence that the force is there to help them.

“Our team comes across the globe they’ve absolutely loved it. Coming to a tournament like this, these opportunities don’t happen often for these guys so playing here on a lovely sunny day is great for them.

“The boys can be scared or worried and may feel they’re in trouble when they see the police so seeing the officers being relaxed and getting involved in sport is great.

“That’s what’s important for these young people, to see these guys (the police) not as people who’re going take them away but people who are going to support and help them.”

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