Hackney Wick aim to resume training and youth work

Bobby Kasanga.

Bobby Kasanga. - Credit: Archant

Hackney Wick are to resume their football programmes on March 29 as lockdown restrictions are eased. 

The club, founded by Bobby Kasanga upon his release from prison in 2015, has been a fixture in the community for a number of years. 

There are 23 Hackney Wick teams, including boys from under 7s, girls from under 14s and an under 10s disabilities side. 

The club has felt the pinch of the pandemic, both financially and socially.

“Some young people are getting caught up in the underground, youth violence sort of thing, because there is nobody there to guide them,” Kasanga told the Hackney Gazette

“We’re predominantly a sports club, but we also run music and drama classes, as well as mentoring sessions for young people.”

However, due to the coronavirus outbreak, all of these services were called to a halt last March.

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Kasanga believes that these services provide vital guidance to young people, and are key to showing them that “the gangs and that lifestyle” are not the way. 

During the last few months the club has been able to run workshops on things like gang culture and violence, drawing on both Kasanga’s experiences and guest speakers he has brought in. 

Bobby Kasanga on the football pitches at Hackney marshes.

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

“People were allowed to ask questions and I can give wide knowledge from where I’ve been, as well as having panel discussions. 

“These were able to give the kids a sort of base [understanding] on the consequences of that lifestyle.” 

Kasanga says these sessions have been successful in terms of the interviews they’ve managed to do on their platforms. 

One of the conditions, pre-pandemic, of playing for the club is that you had to do at least two hours of volunteering in the local community. 

However, with football having stopped and the other services being closed, Kasanga believes that this has provided an opportunity for gang grooming.  

“Did you know about this kid, here? He’s gone to go and do county lines” is the kind of thing he said he has been hearing from other community figures and colleagues. 

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