DMU alumnus creates football league for students

By Joshua Solomon

Former De Montfort University student Mark Abolaji has created a new football league for students who don’t have a place in the university’s official squads, named ‘Active League’.

Mark, 23, who was raised in East London, Hackney, came to De Montfort University in 2015 and studied Mechanical Engineering and also got a PHD in Business Management in Sport.

Mark had been coaching in Leicester for a year before he was approached by a colleague about an idea of a separate league.

It piqued his interest so he took it further, looking at what was on offer at the university.

After his research he found that the official football squads didn’t take into consideration the hundreds of students who were turned away or didn’t get to have a trial for the university. He wanted to do something about it.

Pioneering: Mark Abolaji, DMU alumni.

Also, during his coaching of DMU teams, he said he has found a disparity between all the players he knows and sees plus the range of ethnicities that they bring from all over the country and those who are lucky enough to be picked for the DMU official teams.

So, with the creation of the ‘Active league’ he wanted a pathway for those who maybe have talent but have not had the opportunity to be seen.

Mark said: “We created the active league for people who wanted to coach and wanted to play. To give them equipment and to be able to have competitive games.”

Mark spoke about his passion for the game of football as that drove him to push on with the league and he knows there are others who have the same passion.

He said: “People need to play football; football wasn’t there when the world was created but football created a new world.”

Mark found that coaching at DMU some of the players didn’t share the love of football that he did. He said: “It’s not that the players don’t love ball, it’s just that they’re here for the what comes along with it. The social.”

Mark’s main aim was to create a ‘football purist environment’. He said: “This platform is for people to express themselves, not only to play football but to coach, ref, record and to support.

“To create comfort for people who love football, because there is no better feeling than having a talk about football.”

Mark also talks about the importance of the league on people’s mental health, especially coming out of a pandemic.

He continued: “Football is a release for some people and a way to block out whatever else is happening. To not have that outlet must have a knock-on effect.

“It’s physical and mental exercise, you’re using your brain and your body, it is a pressure release for people.”

Youth Fight For Jobs group rallies in Leicester city centre

By Luke Williamson

Campaign group Youth Fight For Jobs supporters were joined by members of the Leicester Socialist Party at a rally by the city’s clock tower on Saturday [OCT09].

The group were campaigning for an end to zero hour contracts, a £15-an-hour minimum wage and an end to high unemployment rates nationally.

Youth Fight For Jobs and the Leicester Socialist Party campaigning together on Saturday. PICTURE. Luke Williamson.

Steve Score, a member of the Leicester Socialist Party and former City Mayoral candidate, saw the rally as an opportunity to change the “dire future” faced by young people.

He said: “There are a lot of people struggling to find work and what work is there is often zero hour contracts, insecure, part-time and low paid.

“We don’t think that is good enough, leaving aside the other issues affecting young people such as student debt, struggling to pay rent and the whole point of the campaign is to recognise that and put forward solutions to that.

“I think it is brilliant that young people are starting to get organised to say we are not having it anymore, to put forward solutions,” Steve said.

Taxing the rich was one key issue on the agenda, which has been magnified globally after the recent Pandora Papers leaks revealed hidden wealth, tax evasion and money laundering of some of the world’s richest.

The Sunday Times Rich List 2021 also revealed that the rich got richer, with 24 new billionaires taking the list to 171 with a combined wealth of £597.269 billion, a 22 per cent increase on the previous year.

Steve said: “Working class people are being hit hardest and they are not happy about it.

“Millions of people are coming off furlough after the [Covid-19] pandemic where they lived off 80 per cent of their wages when they struggle to live off 100.

“Bills were not reduced by 20 per cent, so people really struggled, yet the rich continued to get richer,” he added.

Another pressing issue wasn’t just raising the minimum wage but also abolishing the exceptions to the wage which sees a 17-year-old paid less than an 18-year-old for the same job.

“Why are you getting paid less money especially if you live on your own and are struggling to pay rent?” Steve said.

The Low Pay Commission says the existing minimum wage structure discourages young people from entering the labour market full-time who could stay in education.

Leicester restaurants set to participate in first-ever ‘Leicester Restaurant Week’

by Abigail Beresford

Knives and forks are at the ready as Leicester restaurants prepare to welcome food-lovers for the first-ever Leicester Restaurant Week, set to take place between October 18 and 24.

The city-wide event, supported by BID Leicester, allows food fanatics to feast at a variety of restaurants, at a discounted price to showcase the variety of cuisines that the city has to offer.

Restaurants set to participate include Queen of Bradgate, Wok Indo, The Globe, and many more.

“The week-long event will give locals and visitors alike the opportunity to try something new, or an excuse to head back to their favourite dining spot,” said Director of BID Leicester, Simon Jenner.

“Our aim with the first Leicester Restaurant Week is to showcase as many of our fantastic eateries as possible, as well as seeing so many great, one-week only offers coming through,” he added.

Fixed menus have been set by each of the restaurants to exemplify the delicious food that they have to offer, alongside great discounts.

“Chefs from all around the city have united to give a personal touch on their menus to encourage more people to dig in to their creative journey,” said Julia Sobutka, Deputy Manager of Queen of Bradgate.

“By participating, we are hoping to help create an amazing event that will make an impact, in ode to growing and exploring Leicester’s finest kitchens, whilst discovering new flavours that are right under our noses.”

New restaurants, and local favourites, have decided to participate to connect with the Leicester community, which is likely to grow the businesses.

“We have taken a giant leap from a tiny restaurant to being in Highcross. Leicester needed a fusion place, so we found a gap in the market for our cuisine,” said Ilesh Amlani, from Wok Indo.

For more information, and to see the range of local restaurants that are participating, visit https://leicesterrestaurantweek.co.uk .

Concern for Leicester as violence and sexual offences rate doubles

By Thomas Carter

The proportion of violent or sexual offences out of the overall crime rate in Leicester has doubled over the last five years, recent figures have shown.

According to CrimeRate.co.uk, the number of crimes involving violence or sexual offences has reached 17,022 this year, accounting for 41 per cent of overall crime in the city.

The rate is a drastic increase on previous years, seeing a rise of more than double since 2016 when it was only 19.9 per cent.

In response to the figures, an official spokesperson for the Leicestershire Police Force told Leicestershire Press: “The force recognises that serious violence – especially that which leads to the death of a person – can have a devastating impact on the families of those involved and our communities.

“Just one death is a death too many and our officers continue to work and engage with communities and partners, through the Violence Reduction Network (VRN) to tackle the causes of street-based violence to prevent further harm.

“Between April 2019 and March 2021, there has been a decrease in incidents of knife-enabled, street-based violence for all age groups – including those under 25.”

Percentage of Crime (%) for violence and sexual offences has doubled (Credit: Thomas Carter)

In comparison to other crimes, violence and sexual offences are one of the few rates that have seen a constant increase in the last five years, alongside public order and drug-related crime.

When considering England, Northern Ireland and Wales as a whole, Leicester is among the top 20 most dangerous cities, having an overall crime rate of 97 crimes per 1,000 people in 2020.

On the matter of tackling the rising crime rate, the Leicestershire Police spokesperson added: “The force is currently running a hotspot policing trial, which aims to disrupt serious violence in targeted areas where violence is most common and further investment has been made with the introduction of school liaison officers, who work in a number of schools within these locations to engage with children and young people to divert and support them away from criminality and harm.

“The number of sexual offences – including sexual offences and rape – remain low and the force employs teams of specially-trained officers to investigate such incidents and offer support to victims.”

For further information and advice regarding subjects discussed in this article, please visit https://www.leics.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/rsa/rape-and-sexual-assault/

Leicestershire firefighters climb mountain for charity

By Kira Gibson

Firefighters from the Kibworth fire station in Leicestershire climbed the second highest peak in the United Kingdom last Friday(OCT8) for charity.

The fire station raised money for The Fire Fighters Charity and ‘The Well’ by climbing Mount Snowdon in Wales.

The Well works by running food banks, charity shops, cafés and more in and around Kibworth, whereas The Fire Fighters Charity works to support firefighters and their families with mental or physical help should they need it.

The fundraising target was £1,085 and the charity walk managed to raise almost triple – with the end total amounting to £3,271.06.

Fundraising is still open towards the walk that has been completed, and this is open until October 31. To contribute towards this charity walk please go to https://www.peoplesfundraising.com/fundraising/MountSnowdonCharityWalk