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Sport seen as a solution to Wincanton yob problem

By Western Gazette - South Somerset  |  Posted: September 20, 2012

Anna Groskop thinks sports clubs like those run by martial art instructors Brett Jacobs, left, and Paul Hacker could solve Wincanton's anti-social behaviour problems

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Wincanton's county councillor has called on local sports clubs to help solve the town’s antisocial behaviour problems.

Anna Groskop believes teenagers in Wincanton are suffering from boredom.

She is now looking to use a Somerset County Council grant to set up sporting opportunities for the town’s young people to lead them away from trouble.

She said: “Teenagers in the town often get bad press and I think it’s partly because they have nothing to do. Our young people are bored.

“People say young people are destroying things like the play area at Rickhayes. However, they just need something to do. “At weekends it’s really difficult because it’s often too expensive for them to travel to find things to do elsewhere.

“Not all young people are bad. It is a minority that are causing trouble. Unfortunately the majority are being painted with the same brush as the troublemakers.

“They just want something to do. They are full of energy and need to be directed with discipline. Sports clubs can help them develop as they prepare to go out into the big wide world.”

County councillors can access up to £10,000 each to support local voluntary and community group initiatives aiming to enhance health and wellbeing in their local area.

Mrs Groskop has already designated £850 for Masterchef-style sessions to be run at the Balsam Centre and £500 for a youth club in Bruton.

She recently met with Paul Hacker, senior instructor and owner of The Honbu martial arts club in the town, who believes more needs to be done to engage young people.

He said: “Young people without anything to do just hang around and have no focus.

“Years ago in the 1950s and 1960s there were things like ice cream bars where they could go and hang out, but there’s nothing like that now.”

Mr Hacker believes karate could hold a solution to the problem – and thinks there has never been a more exciting time to get involved.

He said: “Karate and Taekwondo are relatively easy and cheap to get into. People who look to play more mainstream sports like football or rugby often have to spend a lot of money on strips and boots.

“There’s more to martial arts than just learning a physical sport – it’s more of a community group where everyone looks after each other.

“Now is a great time to get involved in karate. It is the favourite to become an Olympic sport in 2020 and these kids are at a prime age to potentially compete for Team GB in the future.”

Colin Winder, mayor of Wincanton, has supported plans to create more sporting opportunities for young people in the town.

He said: “I would like to see young people involved in sport. I know there are talks to try and secure football training sessions for the town, and we can also extend that to other sports.

“Whether it’s karate or dancing, the more people we can get involved the better. Anti-social behaviour comes in phases, and we’re currently going through a bad phase.”

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