Hackney Wick FC’s Bobby Kasanga recognised as a positive role model at the National Diversity Awards

Bobby Kasanga with London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Picture: Gary Morrisroe

Bobby Kasanga with London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Picture: Gary Morrisroe - Credit: ©Gary Morrisroe

Hackney Wick FC’s Bobby Kasanga has been recognised for being a positive role model through his work to deter young people from a life in gangs.

The reformed ex-gang member was “amazed, surprised, overwhelmed and grateful” to be recognised at the National Diversity Awards.

On his release from prison in 2015 he established Hackney Wick Football Club, giving the borough its first semi-professional football team in over 100 years. He was taken on to manage the Wickers Charity which works to reduce gang related crime by providing positive role models.

He also helps rehabilitate other ex-convicts by going into prisons and encouraging people to turn their lives around when they’re released. Three former prisoners now play for Hackney Wick FC’s first team.

“Before their release they got in touch, said they’d heard about the organisation and wanted to play to keep out of trouble,” said Bobby.

“Football is a unifier, you can be the biggest baddest gangster in the world but as soon as you see a football it makes you feel like a child again and you want to have a touch of the ball.

“Whilst in prison I was planning what I was going to do after my release and that’s what I’m trying to encourage more people who are in prison to do the same– there are consequences for your actions but make the most of your time there. This is what makes our organisation so unique, we’re going into prison and making a difference.”