Chelsea footballer added to line-up for 'exciting' community tournament
An ex-footballer who blazed a trail as Chelsea’s first black player will be appearing at an inaugural community event in Ipswich next month.
Paul Canoville went from truancy and petty crime, to facing racist abuse from terraces in the early eighties, to twice fighting cancer and an addiction to crack cocaine.
His journey, which led to the launch of a foundation to help build resilience in young people, exemplifies intentions behind the event at Whitton Sports Centre on Saturday, April 27.
Suffolk KickOff@3 will give girls and boys aged 13-16 the chance to play in a seven-a-side tournament to win prizes and raise funds for YMCA Trinity Group.
The winning teams from two age groups will compete with winners of KickOff@3 events across the country in a national finals day in London on July 7.
KickOff@3 was launched in 2017 by Met Police officer Michael Wallace and community worker Ashley Levien to encourage positive engagement, break down barriers through sport, raise aspirations and increase cohesion.
Suffolk police, the borough and county council are represented on a steering group for the event, which will include organisations offering work, education and volunteering opportunities.
A community event will run alongside the tournaments, which teams can still express an interest in entering until March 31.
Former ITFC Women player, Laura Bird, now a mental health ambassador for KickOff@3 sponsor, the THRIVE Programme, and training to be a constable in Hertfordshire, will also be turning out for the event.
Ipswich’s neighbourhood and partnership team inspector, Becky Kidd-Stanton said: “We’re very aware it has been a difficult time for a lot of people in Ipswich recently.
“But the feedback we’ve received is that people have been overloaded with information about knives and gangs, and want to start concentrating on the positive side of things.
“This event is just part of what we’re looking to do.
“I hope it shows there are opportunities out there; and that it’s about being able to find them.
“I’m more excited about this event than anything in my 27 years as an officer.”
To enter a team in the tournament or be part of the community event, email SuffolkKickOffAt3@suffolk.pnn.police.uk.