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West Ham footballer Michail Antonio warns youngsters in Newham to stay away from gangs

PUBLISHED: 14:00 08 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:27 08 November 2018

West Ham United winger, Michail Antonio, has warned youngsters not to join gangs. Picture: ARFA GRIFFITHS

West Ham United winger, Michail Antonio, has warned youngsters not to join gangs. Picture: ARFA GRIFFITHS

GRIFFITHS PHOTOGRAPHERS

West Ham United player Michail Antonio has warned youngsters away from gangs.

Antonio, directing his comments at young people at risk, said: “Don’t join gangs. Once you’ve done it, you’re kind of in it and it’s difficult to get out. There’s always another option. There’s always someone you can speak to.

“You think it’s fun while you’re a child, but it follows you through your life. What you do as a child can affect you as an adult and affect your family.”

He added that if it hadn’t have been for his brother he could have ended up in a gang.

The 28-year-old was speaking in the same week it was revealed more murder hunts were launched in Newham than any other London borough in the year to March 2018.

West Ham United bosses have hailed its community project as 'the most ambitious' programme ever created by a Premier League club. Picture: ARFA GRIFFITHSWest Ham United bosses have hailed its community project as 'the most ambitious' programme ever created by a Premier League club. Picture: ARFA GRIFFITHS

The winger was at the London Stadium launch on Wednesday of the Hammers’ latest initiative which sees first team players doing community work.

Vice-chairman Baroness Karren Brady, announcing the Players’ Project scheme, said the club wanted to tackle issues including obesity, poverty and crime.

She added: “We want to find out how we can help turn the tide on knife crime which is rapidly becoming the curse of London.”

Captain Mark Noble said: “I grew up in Canning Town and have always known about the values held dear by the working-class people of east London.

Baroness Karren Brady speaking at the launch of the Players' Project. Picture: ARFA GRIFFITHSBaroness Karren Brady speaking at the launch of the Players' Project. Picture: ARFA GRIFFITHS

“As players, we represent not only the club, but the community that surrounds us. It is important we continue to strengthen that bond.”

Baroness Brady said players have stories that would connect them with real people who have suffered hardship.

One of those is Arif Qureshi of Burges Road, East Ham who lost his father, Salim, and sister, Shabnam, to diabetes.

When his doctor told him he was borderline diabetic he signed up to the 150 Club based at West Ham and managed to escape a disease affecting more than three million people in the UK.

Arif Qureshi managed to see off diabetes after getting involved in West Ham's 150 Club. Picture: JON KINGArif Qureshi managed to see off diabetes after getting involved in West Ham's 150 Club. Picture: JON KING

The 51-year-old NHS admin officer said: “I can’t thank West Ham enough. I’ve made some good friends. I’ve lost 15 kilos in weight and become more energetic.

“I feel like I’m 30.”

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