POLICE met their match when a team of youngsters took them on in a football tournament.
Children who go to the Hillside Young People’s Centre in Paulsgrove played against local police officers as well as community wardens from Portsmouth City Council.
One of the two kids’ teams, Paulsgrove FC, ended up taking the top spot jointly with the community wardens’ team.
Each player in Paulsgrove FC was awarded a winning trophy while medals were presented to the other youth team, Hillside FC, who finished in second place.
In joint third place were two of the three police teams, Hot Fuzz and Gavvers United.
A special trophy was picked up by 14-year-old Darren Spearing, who earned the title of man of the match.
Youth worker Jack Cornish, 19, has been using the centre for 12 years.
He said: ‘Everyone has been looking forward to the tournament and enjoyed it.
‘It’s a great thing to do because it lets the kids see the police on a different level and get to know them as people.’
The idea for the competition was suggested by some of the children who previously took part in a similar event at Paulsgrove Primary School.
Maria Monaghan, the centre’s manager, said: ‘The kids get a bit nervous about people coming here because this is their space, so for them to come up with the idea of having the police here shows that they have had a good experience with them in the past and that is something we want to build on.
‘It’s about bringing the community together and supporting each other – hopefully this is the beginning of breaking down the barriers between the kids and officers.’
Despite being thrashed, police say the event was a good way to mix with youngsters.
Sgt Simon Roberts added: ‘We want these children to get know us and see us as a friendly face rather than just seeing the uniform.
‘A lot of our job is to listen to the community and respond to what they want and getting the support of youths is vital to this.
‘We had a really good reaction from them, the whole event was really positive. We are going to review the day and perhaps we will do it again.’