Sadiq Khan: “Young People in Hackney remind me of myself 30 years ago”
- Credit: Millie Cooke
On a visit to Hackney Wick FC, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he sees himself in the borough's youth and pledged to invest in young people across London.
Speaking at Hackney Marshes on May 22, he explained: “When I meet young people in Hackney they remind me of myself 30 or 40 years ago.
"I grew up in council estate in Tooting and I didn’t know anybody who went to work in a suit. My role models were my big brothers and my dad, my coaches at the boxing gym or my coaches playing football and cricket.
“We’ve got to invest in our young people, rather than complaining afterwards when a small minority get involved with violent crime.”
London's mayor, who is seeking re-election on May 6, also praised the Hackney club for the work it does to support young people in the local community and emphasised the importance of grassroots sport.
“I love Hackney Wick. They’re a good example of a grassroots club working with young Londoners. Not everyone’s going to become an elite footballer, but sport has a really powerful way of changing peoples’ lives for the better.
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“Sport has this wonderful ability to teach you life skills. How to be magnanimous in victory, dignified in defeat.
"How to work as a team. How to make friends. And those life skills I have used - whether it’s been running a business, in politics or being a dad.”
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Hackney Wick FC was founded six years ago by Bobby Kasanga, 34.
It's mission has been to provide opportunities for young people across the borough, not just in football, but also in music, drama, employment and education.
Out of all the London boroughs, Hackney has the highest rate of working-age adults who have no qualifications.
It also had the second highest number of knife crime offences resulting in injury, according to data from October 2020.
Brian Akintokin, community development director for the club, said that supporting young people is at the heart of the clubs mission.
“It’s not just playing football and entertaining people, it's actually doing a social good", he said.
He added: “Grassroots football has been on its knees for the last few years and the elite clubs are really not doing their bit to support their community and society.”