Ipswich: Award for youth football project

A PROJECT which gives young people an opportunity to play football in a bid to reduce anti-social behaviour has today received national recognition.

The Friday Night Project, which was originally launched at Whitton Sports Centre, running in partnership with the North West Ipswich Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT), has finished in third place in a national competition.

Sport and Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson announced the news at a special event in the House of Commons.

The project has already been named as the best Olympic legacy project in the East of England by sports lottery provider Sportivate.

The Friday Night Project, which began last year, offers young people aged 16 or over an hour of football every Friday.

The aim of the project is to give them an activity to do during the evening and prevent them from gathering on street corners or getting caught up in potential anti-social behaviour.

Within months of the project being launched, it was extended to Chantry Sports Centre and a new partnership was formed with the South West Ipswich SNT.

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As of June 1, the project was also extended to include sessions at Gainsborough Sports Centre.

James Payne, Suffolk FA’s Get Into Football officer for Ipswich, received the award from Mr Robertson.

Mr Payne said: “For the Friday Night Project to be recognised nationally is absolutely fantastic.

“The project has been a huge success and I hope it continues to go from strength to strength.”

Phil Knight, Suffolk FA chief executive, added: “This type of project embodies what county football associations are all about.

“To receive national recognition is a wonderful achievement for all who have been involved.

“By providing opportunities for young people to play football, they have not only learnt skills which will help them on the football pitch but also in life.”