Game Changers – Week Six

26th February 2014

After the half-term break, Game Changers resumed this week with the focus on the serious issue of gang culture in the UK.

A Detective Inspector from the Metropolitan Police paid a visit to Richmond Athletic Ground to discuss projects which have been put in place to discourage people from getting involved in gang violence and crime.

Simon Bottomley, a former police officer himself, who has been coaching the kids throughout this year's Game Changers programme, said: “The session was deliberately led by a Detective Inspector from Newham, which is quite a tough inner city burgh.

“The students went through video footage of some quite full-on gang fights with the end result being that people were stabbed and people went to jail.

“We looked at some of the great diversion schemes that the Met Police have got going on at the moment to encourage people away from such gang life.

“It’s about actively approaching gang members with positive mentors, teaching them to read and write, weaning them off gang life.”

He continued: “The session brought out some really interesting life stories.

“Some of the boys have older brothers who have got themselves into difficulties.

“One said their brother was in their 20s and couldn’t read or write and they didn’t want to end up like that.

“It was really encouraging to hear that honesty in a group forum where the students now feel comfortable enough to talk about personal family issues.

In the afternoon, the boys got their rugby boots on for another training session.

The focus this week was on handling, rucking and defensive structures.

Bottomley added: “Their rugby skills are coming on nicely and it was great that we were treated to some sunshine during the session.”

Game Changers is a joint Deutsche Bank and London Scottish community-focused programme which combines education and rugby to make a real impact on young people's lives.

2014 is the second year of this initiative and over an eight-week period, 25 students most at risk of exclusion from school will use rugby as a vehicle to drive behavioural change through a comprehensive sports education program.

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