Hackney Wick FC founder Bobby Kasanga in film about football’s role in tackling knife crime

Bobby Kasanga on the football pitches at Hackney marshes.

Bobby Kasanga on the football pitches at Hackney marshes. - Credit: Archant

The founder of Hackney Wick FC has featured in a new film about the role football plays in keeping youngsters away from gangs and knife crime.

Bobby Kasanga founded the club in 2015 after serving time for armed robbery. The idea was to give kids the opportunity to stay out of trouble and a break from any problems at home.

Since then he’s won numerous accolades for his work, including a Pride of Britain award and an I Love Hackney Mayor’s Civic Award, and is seen as a central figure in the borough’s community outreach.

Hackney Wick, which shares a home ground with Clapton FC, has 170 kids on its books and about 20 teams across different age ranges, with both an academy and an elite set up.

Now, along with fellow Hackney anti-gangs worker Gwenton Sloley, Bobby has told his story in Tackling Gangs – a short documentary made by YouTube network Ultimate Football Fan.

Seventeen people have been stabbed to death in London already this year – 41 across the whole country. Bobby and Hackney Wick are intent on doing all they can to tackle the problem, and last week launched their new kit sponsored by Nike, which “symbolises a united front against knife crime”.

Bobby told the Gazette: “It’s heartbreaking. These kids have lost all moral conscience and for me the parents need to take more responsibility.

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“Everyone is pointing fingers over the reasons but it starts at home sometimes. As a parent you should know where your child is if they are aged 11 to 16. You should know who they are with. I think parents need to take more responsibility.”

Bobby said the impact of cuts to police numbers and youth services “goes without saying”, but is more focused on what can be done with the tools available.

“My thing is that you have to mobilise,” he said. “That’s why we’re out fundraising and trying to get things done. Go out and get the community together.”

But the number of youngsters wanting to get involved with Hackney Wick is so high the club may have to stop allowing new members.

“Because of funding and numbers we can’t expand it anymore,” Bobby added. “We are actually looking to reduce it next year because there’s just not enough space.

“More funding would help massively, but at the same time where do you train? There’s not enough floodlit pitches in Hackney.”