Ten teams from schools in Swansea, Neath, Port Talbot and Pontypridd will battle out their own World Cup finals in a football tournament to help tackle railway crime in the region.
Jointly held by Network Rail, British Transport Police and Arriva Trains Wales, the football tournament is part of Network Rail’s No Messin’ campaign that aims to raise awareness of rail safety among young people.
The tournament has successfully reached out to nearly 200 young people from 32 schools in south Wales since it started last week.
A series of safety awareness talks was held as part of the initiative to educate participants about the dangers of misbehaving on the railway as well as to encourage them in taking up positive activities during their free time.
While the number of railway crimes in Wales has fallen in recent years, the large proportion of young people involved in them is a concern with the majority of crimes happening on the busy railway lines in south Wales.
Nearly half of the total number of railway crimes recorded across the region in the last two weeks involved young people.
Alan Milne, Network Rail’s community safety manager said: “Not all young people recognise the very real dangers of playing near a railway. What can sometimes be viewed as fun and exciting can ultimately end in tragedy. Many children cite boredom as the main reason for committing crimes near railways, endangering their own lives and the lives of others. We hope this event will show them that there are other more positive activities to occupy their time.”
Roger Batcup, police community support officer (PCSO) of British Transport Police said: “All participants in the regional heats received DVD presentations on rail safety conducted by us. The football tournament has been a great success, with excellent feedback from all the schools involved. The pupils have also responded enthusiastically to the lessons provided, offering suitable feedback on topics discussed. They are now more aware of the dangers of trespass and vandalism on the railway, which will hopefully reduce reported incidents.”
The tournament is held at Playfootball.net in Swansea where the champion team will win a No Messin’ Safety Cup for their school.
The participating schools in the final are Daniel James, Bishopston, Pentrehafod, Cwrt Sart, St. Joseph, Cefn Saeson, Sandfields, Morriston Comprehensive and Hawthorn High.