TWO of the winning teams from a football tournament held in Thurrock in May played in the national final over the weekend – and one finished runners-up!
In May, officers from Thurrock Community Policing Team supported by the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner, Thurrock Council and other local partners hosted a ‘KickOff@3’ football tournament for boys and girls aged 13-16-years-old at Lakeside Sports Ground in west Thurrock.
More than 160 children formed their 13-14 and 15-16-year-old teams and went head to head throughout the day to compete for a place in the KickOff@3 Daniel De-Gale Football Tournament final.
Two teams, Evolve 7 and St Cleres FC, made it to the national final which was held on Sunday (7 July) at the Metropolitan Police Service’s sports ground in Hayes where they were cheered on by Thurrock’s District Commander Chief Inspector Claire Talbot, Inspector Paul Ballard, PCSO Jojo Mitchell and PC Mark Miller.
After only playing together as a team twice before the Daniel De Gale national final, Evolve 7 finished runner-up while St Cleres FC fought hard during the group stages of the final but were knocked out.
KickOff@3 has been going for three years and was set up by a Met Police officer and a community support worker in London. It is an initiative for police engagement with the community to build relationships with young people using sport to help build trust and relationships with the police while raising money for charity at the same time.
The finale was an opportunity to raise money for the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) which was set up by Daniel De Gale’s parents following his death.
Before the matches kicked off, a minute’s silence was held to acknowledge the loss of lives due to violence and knife crime. This was something that Essex Police had raised money for in their local KickOff@3 tournament, raising a total of £280 for their charity ‘Only Cowards Carry’.
The national finale saw 22 teams across the UK take part in the all-day seven-a-side competition, 200 players from Bedfordshire to Dublin competed in the event.
The final was closely competed between Lambeth Spartans FC and Evolve 7, but with Lambeth Spartans playing regular competitive football they had the advantage.
Chief Inspector Claire Talbot, District Commander for Thurrock said: “The KickOff@3 tournament has been a fantastic way for us to engage with young people across Thurrock by bringing them together through football, with about 160 boys and girls aged 13-16 competing in the Thurrock tournament in May.
“We have built some long lasting relationship that we otherwise would not have made. St Cleres and Evolve 7 showed great teamwork and character to get that far and should be proud of what they achieved on the day. Both teams played really well and congratulations to Evolve 7 who showed real determination and teamwork to take the runner-up trophy despite having only played twice as a team before the finale.’
Find out more information about ‘KickOff@3’ on Twitter.