Building bridges through football – Youth Group in London

The Life’s Worth Living friendly football match between the Victory Youth Group – UK (VYG) and the Metropolitan Police on London was a huge success. They came together to show the community that they can work side-by-side.

The atmosphere of the day was of pure and utter excitement! The VYG had the chance to build an alliance with law enforcement and hosted them for the first time ever. The officers felt welcomed by the hundreds of people in attendance. Finsbury Park neighbourhood Sergeant, Joe Johnson, spoke of his hopes for the event to ‘bridge that gap between the youth and the police’, he continued to share his enthusiasm for the match and said he would ‘want to make it happen again’.

The match itself was exciting from the offset. The hosting team started off strong with a 3-0 lead, the visiting team later managed to equalise after a few substitutions including the goalkeeper – which seemed to be a game-changer and came back from 3-0 to 3-3. However, a penalty secured the Youth Group a 4-3 victory. All in all leading to a fantastic game!

The atmosphere was absolutely electric, many of the officers were not only impressed with the overall day but some were moved by the entire initiative. PC Mamdouh Abdelkader spoke of his excitement of how the event had panned out and his hopes for continued engagement with the community.

Even though the score was 4-3 – support from the community was for both sides, everyone was happy to just be in the environment.

In an interview, a member of the Youth Group, Mark Higgins, shared past experiences which led to a distorted view and consequently bad relationship with the police force, ‘Growing up I was involved in crime and so I was always getting arrested’ but joining the VYG challenged him to evaluate his life and make better choices. Today, Mark’s change is so significant that he not only understands that the force exists to ‘protect the community’ but he also now gets asked to speak to youth offenders about his own transformation.

The VYG aims to encourage young people to have a happy and successful vision for their future and challenge them not only to do things differently but to BE the difference. The group offers a range of activities including music, drama and sports, as well as practical advice and spiritual support.

For more information about the work of the VYG also in Helsinki please call or WhatsApp us on +358 50 5430 336.