Barkingside based police officer Luke Entwistle contacted the club earlier this year asking for our help. Knowing of the great work we do within our local communities and as part of the Met Polices’ ‘Total Policing’ initiative, Leyton Orient Community Sports Programme (LOCSP) was invited to attend a Redbridge Diversion Through Sport meeting to join in discussions in how to help with attracting youngsters and teenagers off the streets and into sports programmes.
An invite was requested for Elliot Omozusi to visit a local youth centre and speak to some of the attendees and the reformed defender continued to spread the word about choosing your friends carefully and being strong enough to break away from wrong influences when he visited the Frenford Centre in Redbridge recently.
Police Sergeant Rachel Beckford welcomed Elliot to the sports centre and commented, “We are really grateful to Elliot for taking the time to come down and speak to young people in Redbridge about the dangers of getting involved in youth violence. We’re committed to working with partners to divert young people away from crime; today’s talk from Elliot highlighted the dangers of getting involved with gangs. We are grateful to him and to Leyton Orient for arranging the visit and hope we can repeat it in the near future.”
Elliot was highly impressed with the new Jack Carter Sports Centre and stated, “If I had this type of facility on my doorstep when I was younger I’d be here every night. It’s very impressive and just what is needed. The word gangs can sometimes be misguided as it’s usually just a group of friends getting together but the problem is they have nothing to do. This centre is really impressive.”
Elliot spoke of his time playing for Fulham and how grateful he is to have been offered a second chance by Leyton Orient to remain a professional footballer after spending 16 months behind bars. “Yes, I was associated with a gang but we were a group of guys who grew up together in a tight community. What other words can be used…bunch? We were not bad people but sometimes one or two would make a wrong decision. It’s very difficult to break away from a group like that but that’s where you have to be strong. Luckily the club gave me another chance and I have other loving people around me but I’m a changed person now. It was a severe way to learn a lesson but that’s what I hope I can pass on to those who want to listen. I made one wrong decision hanging with the wrong person and it cost me big time. Hopefully my message can save others who may be heading in the wrong direction.”
Since his reprieve, Elliot has established himself as a first team regular and won the supporters player of the month award for October, a testament to his work ethic and revitalised enthusiasm. “I realise how lucky I am to be playing football again and Leyton Orient is a great place to be at the moment. I owe them a lot and the least I can do is to give my best.”