Friday, April 30, 2010

Stopping crime and saving goals in Helmand

Constable Billy Hayes with the team

Over a hundred people turned out last week to watch the inaugural Afghan National Police versus all-comers football competition held at the Police Headquarters in Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province.

There were 4 teams involved who all wore strips donated by the MOD Police and Guarding Agency (MDPGA) and the matches were refereed by MOD Police Constable Billy Hayes from Glasgow, who also organised the whole event.

Billy’s day job is as a police mentor for the ANP. He is helping to train the officers in all aspects of policing in order that they will eventually be able to take over the security of Helmand Province alongside the Afghan National Army.

Billy, 42, has also introduced a Crimestoppers 110 helpline that local people can call confidentially in order to seek help if they ever experience problems or insurgent intimidation in their communities.

Billy says: “I thought it would be a wonderful idea for everyone to enjoy some football in a safe place and they all certainly seemed to have a great day. The overall purpose behind the event was to let the young men know that they could call Crimestoppers 110 line any time they need to but, as a bonus, I think a better level of trust has been developed between the local young men and the Police Service in Lashkar Gah. ”

After some hard fought games, the contest was eventually won by a team captained by Jan, a local Afghan analyst working for the Crimestoppers team in the Police HQ. The winning team received a new strip as a prize.

Jan said: “I hope the next competition will be convened again soon so that we can wear our new team strip. Thanks must be expressed to ISAF and the ANP for convening the whole event”.

One of the other players, Abdul, commented: “It was an excellent competition and it was kind of the ANP to allow us use of the pitch for the contest and we particularly appreciate Billy’s efforts in refereeing the matches.”

Another player, Mustafa, said: “It was great that we had so many spectators. I think the standard was quite high and perhaps next time ISAF will compete as well!”

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