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Kick-off for Respect Street Soccer scheme 26 February 2008

THE Eastern Neighbourhood Partnership is hoping a scheme to introduce ‘quiet’ footballs to its streets will win young fans.

The Respect Street Soccer scheme will see the issue of the new, high-tech footballs to young players in the Onchan, Braddan, Willaston, Anagh Coar and Pulrose areas.

It is hoped to cut the noise and damage caused by conventional footballs being kicked around in residential areas.

Constable Nigel Smith, of the Eastern Neighbourhood Policing Team, explained:

‘These footballs are the same size and weight as regulation footballs but are made from foam and covered in a plastic coating to protect them from wear and tear. They are as much fun to play with as the real thing but without the potential for damage to be caused to property.
‘At present, 50 balls have been purchased from Urofoam Ltd, a company based in Barrow, where a similar scheme has proven to be a real success.
‘These footballs are to be exchanged free of charge for conventional footballs within the Eastern Neighbourhood, not just where problems have been identified, enabling children and young people to play without bothering residents.’

Respect Street Soccer was being launched today (February 26th) with a kick-about at Braddan School, one of 11 primary schools within the Partnership’s area.

Transportation for the footballs to the Island from the supplier was kindly provided by Manx Independent Carriers. The footballs will be distributed by Eastern Community Police Officers, Douglas Corporation’s Enforcement Officers and Community Wardens in Braddan and Onchan.

Constable Smith said:

‘The success of this scheme will be measured against the response from members of our Eastern community and analysis of the volume of calls our Partnership receives in respect of potential damage and the impact upon community quality of life.
'Far from looking to stop children and young people playing out, these footballs should help to negate the annoyance to neighbours and damage to cars or windows.
‘The very essence of this scheme is highlighted within its name, Respect Street Soccer. It is all about the various elements of our community respecting one another.’
Constable Smith added: ‘Following this pilot, if the scheme is considered a success then there would be real scope for extending it to other neighbourhoods.’

The Isle of Man Football Association is welcoming the Respect Street Soccer initiative. Andrew Wadsworth, IoM FA Development Officer, said:

‘Health and fitness is high on the agenda for young people today and it is great to see that children are still playing outside with a ball, as opposed to sitting indoors playing on computer games or watching TV.
‘From the FA and general footballing community’s perspective, the last thing we would want to see is children being banned from playing football in their local area. However, we also appreciate the inconvenience it can cause to residents. The IoM FA applauds and is willing to support this Eastern Neighbourhood Partnership initiative and wishes it every success.’

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