LES IN CRIME FIGHT
LES FERDINAND is backing a new charity that is focused on driving knife crime off the streets.
Ferdinand, QPR’s director of football, was at West Brom to give his support to the Cyrille Regis Legacy Trust. Regis, a big pal of Ferdinand’s, died, aged 59, 18 months ago and widow Julia Regis launched the charity in her husband’s name.
Ferdinand said: “To see this programme coming to fruition, for me, is everything football and society needs right now.
“Especially me being in London, seeing the knife crime that’s going on, young people need help.
“Growing up, I had youth centres I could go to, learn to play football, cricket, table tennis and snooker.
“That’s where your mates were, that’s where you went.
“Now we’re seeing young boys milling around on the streets looking for something to do. Unfortunately they’re getting themselves into fights.
“These fights are turning out to be fatal for families.
“We all need a purpose in life. These guys are walking around with no purpose. This will give them that.
“Being able to talk to these young kids will change one or two from a life of being on the streets.”
There were 43,516 knife crimes in England and Wales up to March this year, the highest ever recorded.
Ferdinand, like Regis, began his career with London club Hayes. He said: “Cyrille was an inspiration to me.
“Him, the late Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson were the first black players I saw on television and felt I could relate to and thought, ‘This is something I could do’.
“As a man and his personality, Cyrille always had time for other people and, when he retired, he still wanted to give back and was mentoring younger players, not just about football, but about life as well.“
The charity deals with three areas – grassroots football, breaking down barriers and mentoring.
Called Strike A Change, it is working with Wolves, West Brom, Villa, Walsall, Birmingham City and Coventry City to help take young people off the streets and inspire them through football. John Barnes will also meet and talk to the kids.
Racist abuse has risen in football by 43 per cent new figures show and Ferdinand, one of the few black people in a football boardroom, added: “One of the programmes is about breaking down barriers and there’s no better example than Cyrille Regis.”
SUPPORT: Ferdinand helps Regis Trust