Football Festival Celebrates Positive Futures

Funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, the Positive Futures project uses sport and physical activity to help inspire young people at risk of crime and acts as an alternative to anti-social behaviour.

Despite the torrential rain, a total of 17 teams made up of young people who have benefited from the project took part in the first ever Positive Futures regional football tournament held in Gwent. The fiercely contested tournament which was sponsored by the Asda Foundation and the Active Communities Network charity included an under 16's and an over 16's category.

The trophies and the medals were awarded to the winners from both categories by the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Paul Harris, and the elected Mayor of Caerphilly County Borough,

Councillor Leon Gardiner. The 'Randomz' team eventually scooped top spot in the under 16's category and the 'Brian Munich' team raised the trophy after becoming victorious in the over 16's competition.

Positive Futures was established in Newport in 2002 and has been providing one to one mentoring for young people and diversionary engagement programmes, training and personal development opportunities which can lead to qualifications or employment. Gwent PCC Ian Johnston awarded the project with £280,000 over two years ago in order to roll the project throughout Gwent so that more young people could benefit from the support it provides.

The figures are more than encouraging and speak for themselves. Since April 2013, over 2,000 young people have attended nearly 4,000 sessions organised by the project in Newport alone. And over 1,000 individuals in other parts of Gwent have taken part in nearly 350 sessions since the project was rolled out further afield.

The project has since received additional support funding from Sport Wales and is garnering more backing from Local Authorities in Gwent. It has also attracted the attention of other Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales, some of whom will be visiting Gwent next month to discuss the possibility of rolling out a similar model in their respective areas.

Highlighting the importance of the project, the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Paul Harris, who presented the winning trophies, said: "This was a fantastic event and the weather certainly didn't dampen the team spirit which was on display here today. This project is an excellent example of what engaging with youngsters early can achieve and we hope this tournament will be one of many more to come in the future. This is one of our flagship projects and the Commissioner is very proud to support Positive Futures and the fantastic work they do with young people. It's important to recognise that projects like this are a key element in preventing offending and make a huge difference to the lives of many at-risk young people in our communities."