Stefan was born in Dagenham where he lived with his mum his entire life. His 3 brothers lived with his Dad and step-family. Stefan grew up with a passion for football and recalls playing at the park with his role model, his older brother who now plays for Wigan Athletic.
Stefan discovered our MOPAC sessions when his friends encouraged him to come along with them when he began to make excuses not to socialise after being released from an Academy team at the age of 13 after 3 seasons at the Club. Attending MOPAC was a turning point for Stefan, at a key time where he could have become a recluse, or fallen into the wrong group as his friend, Joe*, began to do; Stefan describes the MOPAC sessions as something which has “changed my life for the better”.
Since he first attended the MOPAC sessions, Stefan has become a regular attendee and is a highly popular senior member of the group. Due to his positive attitude and developing leadership skills, Stefan regularly mentors the younger participants, and is able to draw on his own experiences to provide guidance.
Stefan doesn’t see Joe anymore, but tried to support him when he fell into crime, including joy riding and selling drugs, on the estate where they both live. Stefan believes that the support network he has around him, including the MOPAC programme, has educated him and provided him with opportunities.
*names changed to protect the participant's identity
MOPAC has changed my life for the better, and provided me with education and opportunities I may have never experienced.
Stefan, MOPAC participant
Established in 2014, the MOPAC (The Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime) project targets hard-to-reach and vulnerable adolescents between the ages of 12-19 through the engagement of sport.
West Ham United Foundation are in partnership with the Metropolitan Police to help break down the barriers between officers and young people, an issue which historically causes misunderstanding in the local community.
Thanks to sports such as football, basketball, handball, tennis and athletics, the community are reducing crime and anti-social behaviour and creating routes into volunteer work, education and employment.
The MOPAC project is currently delivered across three London Boroughs, namely Newham, Tower Hamlets and Barking & Dagenham. With the help of the Metropolitan Police, the Foundation is working in a number of Pupil Referral Units, youth centres and also specifically identified ‘hot spots’ with high crime and anti-social behaviour rates.
The Foundation provides an excellent standard of sporting sessions throughout the week, with the aim of empowering young people and building their self-esteem, as well as offering opportunities and qualifications that will equip them for adult life and increase employment prospects.
To find out more about WHU Foundation's MOPAC sessions, please contact:
Michael Lowne; Kicks/MOPAC Co-ordinator