Kick Off @ 3 puts call out for football teams to help end child exploitation

Kick Off@3 football team. Image: Bedfordshire Police
Image: Bedfordshire Police

A national football tournament that aims to encourage positive relationships between the police and young people is coming to Bedford, thanks to funding by Bedfordshire’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU).

The tournament will take place at Lea Manor High School in Luton, on Wednesday, 31 May during half term. It’s open to boys and girls for under 12 and under 14 teams, those in school years seven and nine respectively.

Kick Off @ 3 is a six-a-side competition designed to encourage established football clubs, youth groups and community groups to send along teams as well as encourage other agencies, who work to keep young people safe, to support the scheme.

VERU are also keen to have mixed teams of girls and boys and also girls-only teams to enter the competition. The winners will go on to compete in the national finals in London later this year.

The idea was created by serving police officer Michael Wallace who has seen the tournament inspire and help hundreds of young people across the country.

Using the power of sport Michael has encouraged them to connect with VERU and also other charities and services.

The Luton Town Football Club Community Trust is also playing a part in organising the event.

Tasha Case, VERU’s community engagement lead, said: “Sport has been proven to have a positive and powerful impact on young people.

“We are totally inclusive and open to all so please come along or get in touch if you would like further information.”

Registration from the tournament will open at 9am on the day, with the football getting underway at 10am. For more information about the event, register your team or get in touch with the VERU, visit the Kick off @ 3 website.

Bedfordshire’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU), is a new network to tackle the root causes of violence and end the exploitation of children and young people in the county.

It aims to involve different partners such as police, local government, health, community leaders and other key partners to prevent serious violence – especially among young people – by understanding its root causes and addressing them together.

This mirrors the successful public health approach that has been taken to tackling violent crime in Scotland.

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