By Sports Correspondents Charlotte Duncker & Jamie Holt
Sporting legends Sir Bobby Charlton and Michael Vaughan have today called for an end to the violent behaviour seen during the riots on the streets of Manchester last week.
Former Manchester United hero Sir Bobby and Salford-born Vaughan visited the Laureus-supported Urban Stars project at The Cliff, United’s former training ground.
Sir Bobby, World Sports Academy Member at Laureus, is one of 47 retired sportspeople who are committed to the initiative aimed at tackling youth crime by engaging young people in sports.
POSITIVE MESSAGE: Sir Bobby believes sport could help prevent further riots
He said: “What has happened over the last week must never happen again.
“The actions of some young people in the past week or so have shocked the world, shattered communities and destroyed businesses and high streets that have survived for generations.
“Sport is an immensely powerful preventative weapon in the fight against youth crime and we need to be investing in this kind of work now more than ever.
Urban Stars Manchester began in January, following on from similar schemes run in London and Birmingham, and also provides learning opportunities to improve academic attainment, aspirations and employment.
The St. James’s Place Foundation has helped support the programme through charity bike rides involving stars like Vaughan, who called for government assistance in tackling this pertinent issue.
He added: “I think there’s always been an element of gang culture, but now it has become quite trendy and whenever something becomes trendy it gets that follow-on effect so we have to try and put a stop to that.
“I hope the government becomes involved in this project. It’s working in London and Birmingham, and should be great in Manchester and this should really be going all over the country.
“Young people can turn their lives around with a mixture of education and sport and that we need to provide as much support as possible for initiatives that help improve the lives and prospects of young people.”
“Not everyone is as fortunate as I am and this creates an opportunity for children that are a bit less fortunate.”
Sir Bobby, returning to the place he spent many hours perfecting his own talent over half a century ago, spoke vividly to the youngsters in attendance, even joining in an impromptu dance routine!
But he was adamant the words of his former coach, Jimmy Murphy, were still resonant today.
He added: “If you’re a good listener, and prepared to work and concentrate hard, everything is possible.”
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