The tournament was part of the Governement's 'It Doesn't Have to Happen' campaign and was hosted by the Foundation at Partington Sports Village. The day was a huge success and saw the home side's under 14s team emerge as regional winners, qualifying for the national final.
Thousands of young people taking part in over 100 Kickz projects across the country have pledged their support to the ‘It Doesn’t Have to Happen’ campaign, which was conceived by the Home Office to combat gun and knife crime amongst young people. As part of the campaign, tournaments will be played across the region in a bid to positively convey tough messages, urging young people not to carry knives.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:
“We all have a role to play in stopping the minority of young people carrying knives and getting weapons off our streets. That is why I am delighted to be working with the Football Foundation’s Kickz projects to give young people the opportunity to feel confident, make the right choices and say no to knives. The goal is not just catching the criminals – it is also about educating young people about the dangers of carrying knives and providing them with positive role models and activities to prevent them becoming involved in knife crime. That is exactly what Kickz is working to achieve in partnership through our “It Doesn't Have to Happen” campaign to continue spreading the message that carrying a knife is not acceptable.”
After the events, the participants and staff will take the campaign message back to their communities and to other young people at each local Kickz project. Partners, including local authorities, police and the young people themselves, will also be encouraged to use the campaign as a springboard for championing local anti-knife initiatives. Furthermore, the Home Office funding is also allowing delivery of targeted workshops from the ‘Be Safe’ organisation across the Kickz network. To date, over 1800 Kickz participants have experienced the hard hitting ‘Be Safe’ workshops, which cover topics including the dangers of carrying weapons and positive approaches to personal safety.
The Foundation's Kickz project has been running in Trafford for nearly two years and has had an extremely postiive effect on the local community. Chief Executive John Shiels thinks the project is vital for the local community, he explained:
“Kickz gives young people the opportunity to conduct themselves in a safe, secure environment where they can work hard and feel the benefits of their commitment. Through the vehicle of football our coaches build a rapport and trust with these young people and show them there are positive alternatives available to them other than a life of crime or violence. Once they see this young people often begin to mirror the coaches’ behaviour – respect, discipline, team work – and above all acting responsibly. For this reason, what Manchester United Foundation and all of the Premier League Clubs do in the community DOES have to happen.”
Find out more about the campaign at www.itdoesnthavetohappen.co.uk.