U’s ‘kickabout not layabout’ offer to Blackbird Leys youngsters

The Oxford Times: Chris Lowes and Joe Long, front, are part of the Oxford United team hoping to gain funds for a children’s course. Picture: OX65607 Aimee Kirkham Buy this photo Chris Lowes and Joe Long, front, are part of the Oxford United team hoping to gain funds for a children’s course. Picture: OX65607 Aimee Kirkham

BORED youngsters in Blackbird Leys could have the chance to do something more entertaining than kicking a football against a brick wall this summer.

Oxford United Football Club are applying to Oxford City Council for a £20,000 grant to set up football training sessions in the school holidays to keep children off the streets.

U’s Community manager Chris Lowes said: “We wanted to give the kids in Blackbird Leys something constructive to do during the holidays. It’s quite innovative, we really want to strengthen our links with the community.”

Rob Lees, 24, U’s community development manager, said: “We want to work with police to cut antisocial behaviour from kids in the area.

“We will use Blackbird Leys leisure centre to run football sessions to reduce the annoyance to residents.”

In previous school holidays, there have been complaints to Police Community Support Officers in the Blackbird Leys area about children and young people kicking footballs against buildings and loitering in communal spaces.

Mr Lees added: “We will be working with the youngsters in three age groups – eight to 11-year-olds, 12 to 15, and 16 to 19.

“We want to give the youth something to do during holidays to help them have more possibilities for the future and give them something to work towards.”

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Oxford City Council’s community development officer Val Churchill praised Mr Lees for working to benefit the Blackbird Leys community.

She said: “It’s nice to see these links forming between Oxford United, the police, the councils and the people of Blackbird Leys.”

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