A university has joined forces with police to combat anti-social behaviour through flag football.

The new project by Solent University and Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary aims to boost mental health and wellbeing while encouraging young people to channel their energy into sport, not crime.

Secondary schools in Southampton are invited to come together for the training sessions.

The first fixtures were held at Deer Park Secondary School and Weston Secondary School on May 8, supported by students from the university.

The scheme was the brainchild of PC Simon Peacock. He said: “Young people are an important part of our community and I feel it is important that we (the police) and our partners invest in this community, giving secondary school students the opportunity to take part in a free sporting event representing their school.

“Engaging young people in flag football is just another tool in our toolbox to reduce and prevent youth anti-social behaviour and crime, and increase participation in sport, thus promoting healthy living among the next generation.”

Daily Echo: James Hughes and PC Simon PeacockJames Hughes and PC Simon Peacock (Image: Solent University)

Flag football is a non-contact form of American football where players remove a flag from the player carrying the ball, instead of tackling them for it.

This project utilises the inclusive nature of flag football to reward pupils doing well in school, providing a free activity for those in Years eight, nine, and 10.

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Dr Dominic Cunliffe, head of sport and health at Solent University, said: “As a university committed to our civic duty, taking part in projects like these are essential, and we’re looking forward to recruiting more schools around the city to get involved and make a positive difference.

“It’s incredibly important for young people to have positive role models, and this project offers that to the pupils taking part, with our dedicated undergraduates stepping up to make a meaningful impact.”

After three months of after-school training sessions led by Solent’s Sports Coaching team and 10 student volunteers students at Deer Park Secondary School and Weston Secondary School played their first fixture on May 8.

The players were cheered on by staff and students from Solent University, as well as colleagues from Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary.

Solent University welcomes interest from secondary schools in Southampton that might want to take part in this project.