You can go fast alone..but so much further as a group.  Sportside partners with KickOff@3

From Brixton to Belfast, KickOff@3 is changing the lives of thousands of teenagers by building bridges across race, culture and religion through the power of sport.

Founders policeman Michael Wallace and Ashley Levien help 13-16 year olds stage their own football tournaments and, in turn, support local charities.

Founders policeman Michael Wallace and Ashley Levien, with Sportside’s Director Of Partnerships, Marisa Scullion.

The Sportside team are proud to announce a partnership with KickOff@3 through that shared ambition to use sport to help young people.

Michael, 48, a PC with the Met, said: “We are delighted to be part of the Sportside family. 

“You can go fast alone but go so much further as a group.”

His co-founder Ashley is a passionate community volunteer and leader. Together, they have formed a trusted partnership with police and local communities in the co-funded initiative.

Michael’s determination to ensure young people reach their potential stems from his own difficult start.

Sports mad, he left school at 16 but with not enough qualifications to pursue his dream to become a PE teacher or policeman. His brother Adam was a professional football and a Jamaican international.

After a spell as a YTS plumber and unemployed, he ended up as a loss prevention officer, tackling shoplifters at HMV in Oxford Street.

Michael got his break when a police officer spotted his talent for dealing with difficult situations and suggested he try for the force, insisting that his lack of qualifications were no barrier. 

He hasn’t looked back since and is now a youth engagement officer in Brixton and an executive with the Black Police Association.

In 2017 Michael and Ashley devised a plan to establish firm, long lasting relationships between young people and their local police force as a youth diversion strategy. KickOff@3 was born.

Their first was a tournament to raise awareness of the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust, a charity dedicated to combating the severe shortage of donors on the UK register.

As the movement grew they partnered with other charities through local police forces,  from tackling the scourge of knife crime through Only Cowards Carry to combatting teenage suicide with the Ollie Foundation.

In Belfast, teenagers from both side of the religious divide stood side by side in a circle in a silent tribute to lives lost in the Troubles. 

That Circle of Silence is played out before each KickOff3@ tournament, as footballers unite in memory of victims of knife crime, race hate crime or ill health. 

Founders policeman Michael Wallace and Ashley Levien with Sportside’s CSO Saife Aziz.

But when the final whistle goes the work does not stop. Michael his team provide mentorship to help disadvantaged teenagers get stability into their lives and achieve their dreams.

One of their main backers is the Royal Air Force who help KickOff@3 youngsters on to that career ladder. Michael hopes that other employers will follow suit, but that requires more funding and awareness.

So far 4000 youngsters have been supported through KickOff@3 and the goal is to go that “much further” through partnership and collaboration with Sportside.

Michael says: “We are using sport to bring young people together, irrespective of race or religion, and in turn raise awareness of charities. We change lives and in some cases we save lives.

“In our football tournaments there are no losers – everyone wins.”

Further information on KickOff@3 at https://www.kickoffat3.co.uk/