Back of the net! Kettering goals campaign to keep kids on the right path
He hopes the new goals will encourage kids to play football instead of taking the wrong path
A Kettering man has hit the target with a campaign to keep children out of trouble by providing new football goals at a once-popular facility.
The goalposts on the artificial surface at Kettering Leisure Village (KLV) are in a poor condition and Rhys Alford, who grew up on the estate, says he thinks the facility has not been maintained well.
The DJ-turned-chef spent countless hours having kickabouts there growing up, making friends, keeping active and staying away from the wrong path.
He wanted to encourage children to play football there instead of getting into trouble and launched a fundraiser to buy new goals for the pitch.
And within 24 hours the appeal had smashed its £1,000 target, meaning four new steel 16ft by 7ft goal frames will now be bought.
Rhys, 25, said: "Growing up in a council house in KLV playing on the AstroTurf was what we did. Most of the kids in Kettering would go down there for a kickabout and I met a lot of friends there.
"It's a really big part of the community that's been let down. Kids don't have anywhere to go now.
"Doing this can keep them out of the areas that can lead them down the wrong path."
Research published by children's charity Barnardo's suggested there is a growing link between cuts to youth services and the country’s knife crime epidemic.
A number of tragic knife attacks involving youngsters have taken place around Northamptonshire in 2021. Rayon Pennycook, 16, was fatally stabbed in Corby in May. Three months later Dylan Holliday, also 16, died in a stabbing in Wellingborough.
Rhys said trouble was rarely a problem at the KLV pitch and that knife crime was 'never really about when he was younger' - but that children now have far fewer alternatives to keeping out of trouble.
He said: "It's really sad now that knife crime is happening more and the kids involved are getting younger and younger.
"We need to be doing more as a community to stop it."
Rhys is now going to use the donations he has received to buy new goals and put them at KLV as soon as possible.
He thanked everyone who donated to the fundraising page, which at 4pm yesterday (Thursday) was at a total of £1,165.
He said: "The response has been incredible. I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped make this happen."