Two Banbury men have joined forces to tackle the growing problem of county lines drug dealing and the recruitment of children to sell the illegal merchandise.
Anser Hussain and Nic Weir are approaching the town’s drug problem from very different perspectives but have come together to set up the Right Lines Youth Super League for under 14-year-olds.
Their aim is to disrupt the drug dealers’ supply chains at the ground level, provide kids with a new focus, educate them and their families about the dangers of county drug lines, instil discipline and respect and reward them with cash prizes.
County lines refers to drug dealers from large cities increasingly recruiting in other areas, children as young as 11 years old as runners to drop off packets of class-A drugs to buyers.
Nic said: “Due to personal experience over the last few months involving my family I have been moved to raise awareness and work with Anser to deliver a project that will help the young people of our community.”
He added: “I’ve seen how stretched the services are and how very little support they get at that level.”
Anser and Nic only met recently, Nic reaching out to Anser due to his community links and work with the mosque, area schools and youth groups, but the friendship soon gave life to the idea of a youth league that had lain dormant on Anser’s to do list.
Anser said: “I was already looking to do a super league for youth. I had a day tournament a couple of months back. It was under 18 and 14 and around 100 children turned up. That’s where I thought ‘wow, this is kind of big’.”
The tournament’s structure has been planned so as to make participation as hassle free as possible for both players and parents.
Ten teams with nine squad members will compete in a league via six evening round robin mini-tournaments of six-a-side, 12-minute games throughout the year at venues across Banburyshire.
Prizes of up to £2,350 will be presented after all six league events have been played with cash prizes for the overall league winners, top goal scorer, best disciplined team and player of the tournament.
Anser said: “There might be some people out there thinking ’why are we going to give them money’ but we’re not going to give them money directly. What we’re going to do is say you guys tell us what you need this money for, do you want spend it in sports shops or computer shops and we will get vouchers.
“How are these drug dealers getting kids in? All they are providing them is money, if you take that out of the game you get nothing.
Anser added: “If we are going to counter that then it wouldn’t really work with trophies and medals.”
The six evening round robin events will provide the backbone of the Right lines Youth League with presentation evening, guest speakers and celebrity appearances adding glitz to the program.
Nic said: “We are getting in touch with outside services from inner cites who have offered to come a deliver educational talks to the young people we will be working with, who have first hand experience of drug trafficking with young children involved.
“Every session we will have a guest speaker there to offer advice support and inspiration to the young people but also the families. We just want to offer support and guidance to the kids and families in our community.”
Team registration is currently underway but Anser and Nic are appealing to Banbury companies and individuals to sponsor the league. They estimate the annual running costs will be around £8,000 and the pair have already received sponsorship from one Banbury business woman and have interest from three other parties.
Anser said:; “There’s different ways you can donate. You can be the sponsor of the champions and come and give the trophy and cheque to the winning team. You could be a second sponsor for the runners up team or the best disciplined team.
“Sponsorship goes from £150 to £800, there is about ten sponsorship levels. We are flexible and if a company wants to put their money in we will give them a lot of leeway as to what they want to do.
“We want to make it communal and give it that wow factor.”
The deadline for registration of the nine member teams is Sunday, October 7.
To register, volunteer or donate to the Right Lines Youth Super League email Banburyysl@hotmail.com or contact Anser Hussain on 07543 333113.