Football used to tackle anti-social behaviour in Norwich

Youngsters take part in the Holy Trinity Church and Norfolk Christian Football League twice weekly o

Youngsters take part in the Holy Trinity Church and Norfolk Christian Football League twice weekly outreach work events at Jenny Lind Park in Norwich. Photo by Simon Finlay. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

As the nation gets ready for the razzmattazz and spectacle of the World Cup in Brazil, the beautiful game of football has been making a major difference to young people a lot closer to home.

The Vauxhall Street area of Norwich has had its share of problems over the years, with police having previously resorted to using dispersal orders to try to prevent anti-social behaviour.

But weekly sports sessions have played a huge part in tackling some of the issues, by giving bored young people a reason to care for their community.

Organised by the Holy Trinity Church in Trinity Street and supported by the police and Norwich City Council, the midweek sports sessions have been credited with reducing anti-social behaviour in the area in the four years since they were launched.

Players and officials from the football club of the church and the Norfolk Christian Football League lead the sessions for for local eight to 19-year-olds at the Jenny Lind Park.

The football sessions take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, with teams of under 10s, under 12s under 14s under 16s and adults.

Tim Stapleford, co-ordinator of the sessions, said playing sport had helped forged relationships with the young people in the area, many of whom have grown up with the project.

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He said: 'Over the four years that we have been working on the park with the local young people we have seen the original core group of 20 or more mature through to their mid teens as very responsible young people who really care for their community.

'Many of them now assist us in putting on even more park activities and youth club sessions for the greater numbers of children now coming along, of primary school age.

'We are now getting sufficient additional funding to train some these older ones to assist us and expand the regular team of park supervisors and sports coaches.

'The great thing is that these young people are ex-pupils of the local Bignold Primary School and this further strengthens our links to this school and the local high schools.

'They are using what they are now doing with us as something that counts towards 'work experience' and things like Duke of Edinburgh Award studies, in their GCSE years.'

The Lord Mayor of Norwich, Keith Driver, found out more about the project at a visit last week and joined the youngsters in a kick about.

The project has, with the help of Green city councillor Stephen Little, obtained funding from the Youth Advisory Board, which has meant it has been able to offer some employment for local young people.

• For further information on the project, call 01603 622225.

• Do you know of a community project which has made a big difference? Email