Robert Kasanga, founder of East London Amateur side, Hackney Wick Football Club was inspired to create the football club to give local children an opportunity to stay out of trouble, after he served time in prison for armed robbery.
Kasanga in his 20’s was an articulate teenager, doing well in his studies and playing football, but still found the lure of easy money from crime impossible to resist and was in and out of prison, but he decided to use his experience to make a difference; The vehicle he chose was football.
“I knew the one thing that can really challenge crime in grabbing kids’ attention is football.”
In January 2015, he established Hackney Wick FC. and within three seasons, the first team are playing semi-professionally in the Middlesex Senior League, there is a women’s team and the club have 250 junior playing members. This season they played in the FA Cup for the first time and drew over 750 for a derby with Clapton FC.
Despite his efforts, some players still fall back to their old ways, Kasanga says “One of our players has just been sent to prison for 18 years. People are still falling through the net. It’s not an overnight process.”
In April, 2019, Kasanga’s Hackney Wick FC U-18 side, despite been the lowest ranking semi pro team in the Eastern Junior Alliance Youth Football League, they were crowned champions.
Kasanga’s ambition is to climb much higher with the team.