Rise United’s manager said: ‘Our own job is to tell them ‘look… We can work together’. We always give them more chances to change their ways and behaviour, so they can be better people in society.’
A Bermondsey boys’ football club that aims to keep kids disciplined and off the streets has won a London-wide tournament, just a year after its launch.
Rise United, which trains twice a week at the City of London Academy Southwark (COLA) pitches on Lynton Road, won the under-fourteen division of the London County Saturday youth football league with fifteen wins out of fifteen. The under-fifteen team came fifth in its division.
Daniel Kanu, who helps run the club, said the founders’ main aim in setting up Rise United was to “instil discipline in children within south-east London.”
“We try our best to make them believe they can do better, even if you can’t make it as a footballer,” Daniel said. This attitude doesn’t only to extend to football, but also to school.
“Most kids aren’t going to have a career our of football, so they have to know that school is important. Academic work and sport are interwoven. This is what we try to make them see, when they keep going up the ladder. Behave well at the football practice and other things will come.”
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Daniel’s tough love has seen players suspended and even kicked out for transgressions like shoplifting. “Because the boys wear the club’s uniform, if they are caught misbehaving, shops will call or email us. If you mess up that bad, there’s no time for that.”
He said he is worried about boys in south-east London getting caught up with violence related to drug dealers. He said he tells them: “‘When you’re not playing, you don’t hang out in chip shops. If you’re going to the chip shop go with your parents or an adult.’”
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And mostly he tries to work with kids who misbehave. “Our own job is to tell them ‘look… We can work together’. We always give them more chances to change their ways and behaviour, so they can be better people in society.
“I don’t struggle to discipline them. They know the consequence. Two weeks suspension, you miss quality matches. Honestly no player wants to miss a quality match.”
Part of this discipline is respect for opposition players, Daniel said. “We always inculcate this thing that you line up, you shake players [hands].
“Afterwards you line up and shake players too. If I shake you as a player, I don’t have no animosity against you any more. If you don’t shake or greet your opponent, you can stay angry.”
Drug and gang violence is not the only threat that Daniel wants to protect the boys from. “We intend not to train in the park, because of child molesters and paedophiles taking pictures. We don’t allow people to take photos.”
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Such is the young club’s success, several boys have been scouted by professional football clubs and are in trials, including at Tottenham, Ipswich, where Daniel has contacts, and Leyton Orient.
“We push players to get better and be disciplined. When the scouts come, we show how disciplined someone is as a player – no scout will take someone who isn’t going to train properly.”
The club is just for boys at the moment, but the managers want to start a girls’ team. “We intend to have younger boys and girls involved once we get enough coaches. We don’t do gender discrimination.”
The club held a party in Tabard Gardens on Borough on Thursday, June 2, to celebrate the teams’ great performance in the first season.
Trials for the next season will start next week, Daniel said.
Anyone who wants to get involved should call him on 07930860093.