Youngsters attending FC International Football Camp know if they commit a crime they will get thrown behind bars.

Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis and former prisoner George Roper shared the same space at the George Town Annex playing field Wednesday with one common goal in mind – to highlight for youngsters the importance of making positive choices in life during day two of FC camp programs.

At the camp, community guest speakers from various entities, including the Health Services Authority and other RCIPS officers, spoke to the 70 youngsters.

“I spent 23 years in prison for armed robbery because of making poor choices in my life and following the wrong crowd. I paid the cost, but every choice that you make, there is a consequence for that action,” Mr. Roper told the children.

“It was not easy … I cried like a baby and all my friends forsake me,” he said, adding, “I became an outcast, Not even my own family wanted anything to do with me and even now, a lot of people do not want anything to do with me, but thank God I am a changed man.”

Mr. Roper told the youngsters to make good use of the positive opportunities that were given to them.

“It’s not just about coming out and kicking a football around, it’s about you guys learning to work with each other, good guidance, making good decisions for yourselves and ensuring you have a bright future,” he said.

Deputy Commissioner Ennis told the children to listen to their coaches and mentors. He said when he was their age, people were always telling him things he should avoid, advising him to stay away from trouble, do his work at school, do extra-curricular activities and to enjoy things that were clean and healthy. “Some of the young people that I grew up with did not listen …. Where they are today? In jail or dead,” he said.

George Roper speaks with the kids about making positive choices. – Photo: Jewel Levy

In response, the kids told the deputy commissioner they would keep away from danger, get good grades, would not take drugs and would protect the community. Mr. Ennis made them promise to share the things they told him with other young people and adults. He told the them he was proud of their smart answers and the camp was a positive way to build character.

“Our job as police officers is to make sure that children are safe and to protect their rights,” said Detective Sergeant Emma Twydell, as she discussed with the kids how they could seek help if they were having problems. She also advised them that if they felt abused or uncomfortable, they should tell a parent or friend.

Robert Powell, a student studying in China to be an orthopedic surgeon who is on a internship program at the Cayman Islands Hospital, also attended the camp. He told the campers about the dangers of certain drugs and lifestyles.

Breshawn Watson, a top goal scorer in the Bodden Town Under-15 team, said he learned lots of new things attending the football camp, which he was now passing on to younger kids.

The organizers of the camp are club president Kennedy Ebanks and technical director Elbert McLean.

Coach McLean said the camp offers the campers focus, discipline and basic fundamental football moves, such as passing, controlling and working as a team.

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