Tracy Washington and Deborah
Deborah and Tracy were there at the start of KickOff@3 having met Michael Wallace in 2014 and encouraged him to sign up to the Metropolitan Black Police Association, inviting him to the 2015 London Conference. This engagement enabled his dream of creating a youth engagement programme, with co-founder, Ashley Levein, which would enhance lives, enable collaboration between Police and young people, reduce violent crime and create job opportunities.
The collaboration quickly produced the model for KickOff@3, Deborah and Tracy being fundamental in producing ideas as to the running of events. They remain the heart and soul, the crew keeping the ship afloat, hidden in the engine room away from the sunshine, attractions and amazing football which the rest of us enjoy.
Matchday for them begins over an hour before the teams arrive, setting up the check point, updating their records and collating team packs for distribution over the next couple of hours, ensuring that each team's Police Leads register their teams, know where they need to be and when and have the vouchers they need to obtain free food and drink to sustain. Throughout the day they are a point of contact for everyone, the founders, the board members, teams, referees and medics – ensuring that, via their network of runners, the call for medical assistance is speedily made via the PA system.
They also designed and maintain the spreadsheets which track the tournament and quickly identify which teams will play off for winners and runners-up in the two age categories. This is seamlessly done with the help of a team of Police Cadets monitoring each match and reporting the results in a matter of moments. This ensures that there is no delay at the end of the league stage in identifying the play-off participants.
Such is their humility that they do all of this in the background, quietly, efficiently and with great humour and humanity. On being presented with tokens of esteem at the closing ceremony they were engagingly humble, merely stating their joy at being part of the KickOff@3 family. Everyone but the founders, board, Police Leads and organisers have no idea of the fact that without these ladies there would be no KickOff@3 and certainly no smoothly run tournaments.
Su Irwin - Chair of the Board
Following a varied 30 year career in both private and public sectors, my final role was as Performance and IT Manager at the Dorset Devon and Cornwall CRC, whilst ensuring the smooth transition to the current Probation systems (known as Transforming Rehabilitation).
The new organisation held a celebratory event, at which I met Steven Duncan, Spoken Word Artist in Social and Criminal Justice and school friend of Michael Wallace (below). 2 years later, Steve introduced me to KickOff@3 and immediately knew I had to help.
In June 2018, Steve invited me to attend the Finale Event at The Warren and I fell in love with how closely the ethos fit to the path identified in my degree research into reducing crime amongst our young people. Engaging, befriending, identifying work/training opportunites and leading by example are the key elements to avoiding a life of crime, but the exciting part of KickOff@3 is that the adults befriending the youngsters are local serving police officers. Once introduced to Michael I began to publicise their work via Social Media and soon found that my lack of a coherent career path fit me perfectly to support the many administrative tasks required to support a constantly growing charitable orgnaisation.
In the intervening year I completed my BSc in Criminology and Psychology and alongside my work with a local child protection charity, began to provide back room support for
KickOff@3. This became my main role on 1st March, when I was offered the honour of becoming Chair of the Board. It is the joy of my life to hold this role and help drive this
unique and timely project further across the UK and beyond, helping to prove that our communities have the biggest role in crime prevention, not our justice system.
P.S. Meeting our lovely supporter, Colin Salmon at this year's Finale was a wonderful bonus (above).