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Hali and Funmi working with Met Police.

The Metropolitan Police, England Netball and London Pulse players Funmi Fadoju and Halimat Adio came together on Sunday 16th January for the launch of Beyond The Court; a new year-long engagement initiative established to strengthen relationships between young women and police in South London.

The initiative will consist of four netball and three police activity days throughout 2022 that will look to use netball as a vehicle for positive change. In line with their belief in the power of sport, England Netball partner Nike is supporting the initiative.

Beyond The Court was developed due to the lack of sports engagement initiatives targeted at young women across the capital, and after a successful pilot day which was nominated for a London Sport Award back in November 2021, has been expanded into a longer-term programme.

A first of its kind this innovative and powerful initiative aims to promote the fundamental values of netball both on and beyond the court to empower participants to engage in a positive outlet and enhance their physical and mental wellbeing, whilst also breaking down barriers between young people and the Police.

Day one of the initiative saw 35 girls aged between 12 and 18 from across Croydon, Bromley and Sutton come together for a two-hour coaching session with England Netball coaches, a Q&A session with Funmi Fadoju, Halimat Adio and DAC Barbara Grey, and 60 minutes of match play.

Throughout 2022, participants will engage with a variety of activities including visits to elite netball matches and the National Air Service Police centre, taking part in workshops on core values such as resilience, as well as receiving talks from prominent figures within the Met police.

Beyond The Court will open up conversations around youth violence in south London with the people most affected and find out what more police can be doing to support young Londoners, forming a crucial part of the Met’s fight against violent crime in the capital.

PC Emma Simms from the Met’s Youth Engagement Team said: “We set up this project as we saw that young women in South London needed access to a positive outlet and netball is a perfect fit. Sport is a really key factor within the Met’s broader youth engagement work – our youth engagement team also organise and get involved with football, rugby and cricket initiatives. Playing sport opens up a point of conversation and creates a shared experience between young people and the police.

“Last year saw the highest number of teen homicides since 2008, and that was heart-breaking for my team because we work with the people most affected by those murders every day. The purpose of all of our youth engagement work is to stop people becoming involved in violent crime. We want everyone to know that humanity always comes before the badge.

“We are incredibly grateful to the team at England Netball for sharing our belief in the potential of the capital’s young women, and for helping us to provide the series of upcoming events. Together, we’ve helped to give these young women some incredible things to look forward to.”

Fran Connolly, CEO England Netball, added: “We are delighted to see the ‘Beyond The Court’ project launch in partnership with the Metropolitan Police and I have no doubt that this important initiative will bring about positive social change.

“Netball has the power to unite and inspire communities whilst helping to transform the lives of young women and girls and we are thrilled to see this project take to court”.

Sam Bird, CEO London Pulse said: “London Pulse is delighted to be contributing to this programme by providing elite athletes from our Vitality Netball Superleague squad to meet the girls and coach them. They are giving up their free time to contribute to making a positive change in London as both Funmi and Halimat are Londoners themselves.

“This is an example of the London Pulse ideology in action”.

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