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Tuesday September 9, 2008Its time to stop the violence

By Soriebah Kajue | In General

Micah Richards has urged young people to turn their backs on the senseless gun and knife crime that is blighting the country.

Over 20 young people in London alone have died this year as a result of knife crime, while communities in some parts of Manchester, Birmingham and Sheffield continue to be stalked by gun crime.

In certain quarters, the view had long been held that these social ills were exclusively an inner-city or black problem.

Richards, however, is keen to highlight that these are problems that affect all communities and races.

He said: “Its just not happening to one set of young people, in one part of the country, its happening to all of us. We as young people need to try and stop this with the support of our communities and the Government. It really saddens me when I hear about a young person dying through gun or knife crime. I often wonder what that person could have been if they would have been allowed to grow up and reach their potential. Would they have been a Doctor, Lawyer, Policeman, or even a Footballer perhaps? We’ll never know and that must be heartbreaking to their parents. To everyone out there who carries a gun or knife, I’d like to ask them to put it down and end this madness. You are destroying your life and so many others in the process.”

Richards himself grew up in the tough inner-city district of Chapeltown in Leeds and is fully aware of the temptation to stray in similar neighbourhoods around the country.

He added: “People might look at me and think, what does he know he’s a rich footballer, but I wasn’t always like this. I grew up in Chapeltown which wasn’t always an easy place to live, and I worked hard at my football. I found a focus and I was determined to make something of myself. I’m not saying that everyone should be a footballer because we all have individual talents which we have to find. I know that things can be hard growing up because I’ve been there but if I can come out of that type environment – I know that young people in similar situations can. I’m no different!”