Youngsters take on Kent Police at Gillingham FC
Young people from Medway Children in Care Council secured bragging rights over their local police officers on Monday night when they won a football match at Gillingham Football Club’s MEMS Priestfield stadium.
The team, put together by the Young Lives Foundation charity, took on Kent Police in a community event refereed by the Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch MP. Kent Police romped to an early lead but the Young Lives Foundation came back to draw 4-4, and then won the deciding penalty shoot-out.
The Young Lives Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer Stephen Gray said:
‘This whole event was about the vision Young Lives Foundation, the Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott and Kent Police have about breaking down barriers and improving relationships between young people and the police. The fact that the police, Tracey Crouch and Mr Scott threw themselves wholeheartedly into the occasion made it even more memorable.’
Kent Police District Commander for Medway, Chief Inspector Simon Alland said:
‘The tournament was great fun. Our police officers gave their own free time to take part in the evening because the Young Lives Foundation does a lot of good work for young people in the area.
‘It was a great opportunity to meet young people, find out what their views are on policing across the Medway towns and build positive relationships between them and police.’
The event was first mooted when the PCC Mr Scott visited Young Lives Foundation last summer. Mr Scott had planned to attend Monday night’s game as a spectator but ended up donning a shirt for a cameo appearance for the Young Lives Foundation in the second half.
Ch Insp Alland, who opened the scoring on the night with a header, continued:
‘We are grateful to Paul Scally and Gillingham FC for the warm welcome to the grounds. It gave the young visitors a unique opportunity to play on the pitch, use the changing rooms and see the Players’ Lounge.
‘My thanks also to Tracey Crouch MP who refereed the game. She carried out her duties brilliantly, except when she awarded a rather controversial penalty against the police!’
Ms Crouch said:
‘I really enjoyed having a small role in what will now be an annual football match. It is competitive but fun and forges a respect and friendship between the players. I am pleased it continues to be so well supported by Medway Council, Kent Police and Gillingham Football Club.’
Mr Gray added:
‘The night exceeded all expectations. I know many of the children who took part were delighted just to be in the stadium, let alone have the opportunity to play on the pitch and wear the Gillingham strip.
‘The game was played in a spirit of inclusion and fun which is exactly what we were hoping for. One young girl approached me at the end of the night and thanked us because it was the first time she had ever received a trophy and was overwhelmed to have been included.’