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Harry and Luka inspire budding young footballers at The Lodge

Posted on 8 April 2009  - 12:00

Harry Redknapp and Luka Modric welcomed hundreds of young people from Kickz projects across London to our Spurs Lodge training ground to compete in the London Regional Kickz/It Doesn't Have To Happen Football Finals on Tuesday.

Harry and Luka inspire budding young footballers at The Lodge

Harry Redknapp and Luka Modric welcomed hundreds of young people from Kickz projects across London to our Spurs Lodge training ground to compete in the London Regional Kickz/It Doesn't Have To Happen Football Finals on Tuesday.

As part of a national competition, thousands are taking part from over 100 Kickz projects across the country, pledging their support to a Government campaign to tackle knife crime, entitled: It Doesn't Have to Happen. The power and influence of professional football brands in young peoples' lives will be harnessed to positively convey the message, urging young people not to carry knives.

Budding young footballers from the eight Kickz projects run by the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation across north east London were given the chance pull on Club colours and compete against teams from Arsenal, Millwall, Southend and Barnet.

And it all took place under the watchful eye of manager Harry and Croatian international midfielder Luka, who took time to take a look at the talent on show.

Harry officially opened the event with a few words of wisdom for the youngsters visiting the Club on the day....

"What is important is that you enjoy the game and you're a good sportsman, and anyone playing football at this age will make friends for life. Not everyone can win, but what matters is that you get out and play the sport that you love. I grew up on a housing estate, just like some of you, and you can make anything you want out of your life. But the most important thing is to be a good person with respect for others. There's no place in life for crime or violence. Only cowards carry knives and knife crime is something that should not exist. So enjoy the day, shake hands with the opposition whether you win or lose, and keep practicing your football, because you can make anything you want out of life if you work hard at it."

Luka then came along to help the participants hone their skills in activities laid on by the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation in the rest area.

They were also treated to a display from Spurs Football Freestyler Billy Wingrove, and got the opportunity to learn about the dangers of knife crime in specially-arranged workshops.

The tournament itself was split into three age groups - Under-12, Under-14, and Under-16. The winners were as follows:

Under-12: Tottenham Hotspur
Under-14: Tottenham Hotspur
Under-16: Barnet

Kickz

It Doesn't Have to Happen was conceived by the Home Office and young people have contributed significantly to its development. It aims to give young people an understanding of the consequences of knife crime, encouraging them to ‘say no to knives' and have a positive influence on each other. Peer-to-peer messaging is an important part of the campaign which has a dedicated website on the social networking site Bebo: www.itdoesnthavetohappen.co.uk.

The Kickz programme, backed by the Football Foundation, Premier League and Metropolitan Police, will initially raise awareness of the campaign via twelve high profile regional tournaments. 12-16 year olds will pull on clubs' strips and represent their communities in the competition, with finals at Derby County's Pride Park and Chelsea's Stamford Bridge.

The Spurs tournament was supported by Choice FM, who are also driving a Peace on the Streets campaign. DJ Hotstepper was on hand to create an excellent atmosphere.

Kickz is delivered in deprived areas and works with 39 professional football clubs to engage young people who may otherwise be difficult to reach - over 21,500 have to date. Kickz aims to build safer, stronger, more respectful communities through the development of their potential and the majority of Kickz projects take place in the Government's 15 Tackling Knives Action Programme areas. Sessions take place 3 nights a week all year round, including, in most cases, Friday and Saturday night provision.