Grass Roots Football began when Kim Hepple and Geoff Ogden encouraged the boys in the Newington area of the city to play football rather than spend evenings intimidating people.
Kim Hepple as local community officer for the council and despite many misgivings from colleagues working for the Hull Corporation, appointed Frank McKenna.
Frank, tatooed from head to foot had had a very rough childhood but he empathised and understood the young people
Frank, a no nonsense kind of guy, soon had the respect of all concerned, and the scheme took off.
My charity’s involvement came when I was invited to watch a match and discuss the future of the programme.
The programme was an initiative started by Kim Hepple and supported by Geoff Ogden in his role as Director of the High Sheriffs’ and Humberside.
I knew Geoff through as a fellow Rotarian and as a senior Police Officer. I also knew that he was keen to help young people and had spoken to my Rotary Club on the abuse of drugs etc.
If Geoff and Kim were involved with the right motives I was keen to get involved.
I proposed that we would help.
This was the deal. My charity would give £25,000, if it was matched by another £75,000. This would provide two new coaches, just in case Frank went under the proverbial bus.
It grew so rapidly that at its peak 1,000 boys were playing football, on the all-weather pitches in Walton Street.
Some of the boys showed great talent and Frank organised a trip to Portugal to take part in the Youth International 7 a side Football. One of our the teams came second and the other team won their league and the trophy.
Our support was recognised and others joined the cause.
And, of course, crime fell.