The match saw the Met Police take on a community team battling to win the Matt Ratana Memorial Trophy, in honour of the late Sergeant Matt Ratana who lost his life working in Croydon custody.
In attendance watching the match and supporting the partnership were Assistant Commissioner Louisa Rolfe and other attendees from the Met and Croydon partners.
The year-long partnership between community influencers, organisations, charities and the Met Police was created by Community Activist Anthony King, with a commitment and desire to work together across the borough to improve the lives of young people living in Croydon.
The match also falls on the first anniversary of the death of George Floyd, the catalyst for this partnership.
Community activist King, who formed the partnership, said: “Sadly there has been so much negative press around policing, community engagement and communities recently with many statements around a lack of trust between young black males and the Met Police too.
“In 2020, after the tragic passing of George Floyd, key community influencers, statutory organisations, the Met and Palace for Life Foundation vowed to bring the community together to tackle serious youth violence and knife crime in our borough.
📍Selhurst Park— Palace for Life Fdn. (@PalaceForLife) May 25, 2021
Today we have our play on the pitch day where participants from across our projects are getting the chance to play at Selhurst Park 🤩 pic.twitter.com/mfx1fe169Q
“Today marks one year of this relationship being formed and the start of the journey to rebuild trust, work collaboratively, and give those at risk the opportunity to meet with and engage with services that they would never had previously had the change to engage with.
“Thank you to Palace for Life for opening their doors to support the community extensively and providing opportunities to the young people that need them the most.”
The individuals and organisations in the partnership have supported various activities in Croydon, including growing Palace for Life Foundation’s Premier League Kicks Project.
Premier League Kicks works closely with the Metropolitan Police and Youth Offending Team to use a range of constructive activities including football, DJing, cheerleading and boxing, to divert young people away from crime and anti-social behaviour whilst providing safe, supportive and educational spaces.
Players in the match at Selhurst were made up of representatives from a variety of organisations which have been supporting various projects, including Croydon Voluntary Action and Mentivity, as well as young people who have been positively impacted by the organisations' work over the last year.
Palace for Life Chief Executive Mike Summers said: “In the year since George Floyd’s death, local Croydon community leaders, young people and the Met Police have come together every Friday to forge greater understanding, partnership and friendship.
“Although the journey has only just begun, we’re proud to play our part and welcome them to Selhurst Park today to celebrate the immense progress we’re making.”
Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain, who leads the Met’s South Area command, said: “I am so proud of the genuine friendships that we have built over the last 12 months with the Croydon Community. Together we are building trust in policing and taking steps to make Croydon a safer place.
“All officers are truly touched by the Community recognition of the tragic loss of PS Matt Ratana, who passionately believed in community policing and would have supported using sport to break down barriers and build relationships. No matter who won today, the real victor will be the strength of our relationship with the young men of Croydon.”
The commitment of these groups goes beyond the past year, with plans in place to support more south Londoners through various means to work with those most at risk of involvement in serious crime.
Future matches for the Matt Ratana Memorial Trophy will celebrate continued work in these spaces, allowing Sergeant Matt Ratana’s legacy of supporting young people to live on.
You can support Palace for Life by donating to their work here.