A Brixton football charity is fundraising for safe playing facilities after a stabbing took place during their training session at a community centre.
Football club Lambeth Tigers hope to raise at least £10,000 on JustGiving towards long-term stability of safe facilities for young people.
The fatal stabbing of 23-year-old Glendon Spence in February was witnessed by staff and some of their young players.
Lambeth Tigers head coach David Dean Marriott, 37, said: “The problem we have now is we have to turn children away.
“We don’t have enough staff and we don’t have enough facilities to be able to accommodate everybody.”
The charity, who have around 350 children attend the club each week, were at the Marcus Lipton community centre when the young man was stabbed to death on February 21.
Lambeth Tigers have trained at Myatt’s Fields Park in Camberwell for years, but the ground isn’t safe and it’s not a lit-up area, so it’s only suitable for summer training.
The club began training at Marcus Lipton in September to use indoor facilities for futsal and to keep young children out of the cold.
The girls’ football sessions have since been stopped because there are no facilities for them.
It costs the club around £40,000 all year round for playing facilities and equipment.
Club Secretary Lara Bincham, 33, said: “No coaches get paid a wage, so it’s all mainly on good will gesture, they come and do it and they give up their time for love and passion.
“Come the end of the year you struggle to be paying off the rest of the stuff, because you’ve got so many vulnerable children that can’t afford their fees.”
The club has been running since 1995, when Christopher Butler started the club for black youth in the community as he wanted to give them an opportunity and a chance.
Mr Marriott took over the club after Mr Butler’s death in 2001 from cancer.
Miss Bincham said £10,000 could potentially get them a long-term facility, which is what they need.
The charity turned Mr Marriott’s life around from drugs after the death of Mr Butler and then his brother to gun crime.
Miss Bincham said: “People in the community actually look up to David and Jamahl and the other coaches that have been involved because they can relate to them.”
She added: “If they can see people like David turning their life around, then there’s hope for them as well, right?”
Mr Marriott said having a hobby such as football for young children most definitely takes them away from knife crime, which is rising.
He said: “We had a boy and he was a really good player and we had opportunities to send him to Arsenal, Crystal Palace were interested in him and Brentford.
“In the end, we decided to send him to Brentford.
“He was a really smart boy, but he could easily be misled and that decision, even though he didn’t make it professional, made him a much better person by travelling and not being around everything.”
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