Highbury and Lewisham schools give postcode prejudices the red card

Year nine students from Deptford Green School travelled to Highbury Grove School to understand a dif

Year nine students from Deptford Green School travelled to Highbury Grove School to understand a different perspective of London. Picture: London Football Journeys - Credit: Archant

Students from Highbury Grove School met their south London counterparts in a soccer scheme to build bridges between youngsters from different areas of London.

The inter-community football exchange, organised by London Football Journeys (LFJ), offered pupils from Deptford Green School the chance to take part in football activities at Highbury Grove, led by an Arsenal in the Community coach.

Alex Baine, founder and director of LFJ, said: “We started in 2012 and a lot of research went into what issues young people in London face. Many have a negative idea of other areas.”

The event on Saturday was held in association with Arsenal, with students of both schools placed into mixed teams to build teamwork and communication.

Mr Baine said: “Football is used to get them engaged in the program initially.

“Some were really up for it, although others found it very challenging.”

It is hoped schemes such as the football exchange will help beat the insular attitudes that can breed gang culture.

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“I think the postcode issues can affect kids’ views on other areas,” he said. “We are about linking communities that are very distant but share similar misconceptions in people’s minds and the media. We are trying to combat those ideas and expectations.”

The football exchange proved popular with the Highbury Grove students who visited south London on April 16. One said: “My opinion of south London is different because there have been rumours that’s it’s a bad area but it is not. There are nice buildings and schools.”

The program, supported by the Football Foundation charity, runs with each school for about four months. It also incorporates workshops that allow the pupils to make a video about their school and youth club for the visiting students to watch.

LFJ organise about 20 football exchanges a year across London.