Former Chelsea footballer says young people need strong models head of community football tournament
PUBLISHED: 19:24 18 April 2019 | UPDATED: 13:54 19 April 2019
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A former Chelsea football player who rebuilt his life after getting involved in drugs is coming to Ipswich to help unite the community through sport.
Paul Canoville was the west London club's first black player, joining in the early 80s, and faced a torrent of racist abuse from the terraces while he played.
After his footballing career came to a close, he strayed into the world of drugs, eventually getting addicted to crack cocaine.
He battled to get clean and rebuild his life and now works to inspire young people through his charity foundation.
He is coming to Ipswich on Saturday, April 27 to attend the Suffolk KickOff@3 football tournament in Whitton which looks to unite the community and inspire young people to overcome the challenges they face.
Mr Canoville said young people need strong role models to show them there is hope for the future.
“We can only do so much as adults ourselves,” he said, “This is about motivating and inspiring these kids.
“They get knocked down once and they think that's the end of the world.
“They need to know it can get better.
“We need some more mentors to show them the way and to inspire them.”
Suffolk Kickoff@3 gives boys and girls, aged 13-16, the chance to play in a seven-a-side tournament to win prizes and raise cash for YMCA Trinity Group.
The winners will compete with teams across the country in a national finals day in London on July 7.
Mr Canoville said: “Football means a lot to people and can be a big part in young people's lives.
“It is important for us to understand the youth today and what is happening with knife crime - it's affecting all parts of the country and kids are frightened to walk the streets.
“It is very serious and something that the Government needs to step up on because lives are being lost.
“Every day you hear of a young man or young woman being stabbed. “I understand there is a problem with gangs in Ipswich too.
“This is about getting everyone to come together through their love of football.”
To enter a team or to be part of the event, email police here
For more information see here.