YOUNG footballers from Port Talbot are gearing up for the big kick-off of this year’s No Messin’ Railway Safety Cup.
The five-a-side tournament, organised by British Transport Police (BTP), Network Rail and Arriva Trains Wales, sees teams from more than 40 schools battle it out for a place in the grand finals.
Regional qualifying rounds are held for schools in Neath Port Talbot, Cardiff and Newport, Swansea, and Pontypridd, with the four semi-finalists earning the right to compete for the champions’ trophy next month.
The event aims to promote alternative activities for youngsters to discourage them from trespassing on the railway, which can prove fatal.
During the tournament, each team of Year 8 pupils will receive a hard-hitting safety presentation from police community support officers featuring young people and families who have been affected by trespass on the railway.
The Neath Port Talbot regional heat will be held at PlayFootball in Treboeth, Swansea, on Wednesday, May 30.
Schools taking part from Neath Port Talbot are Cefn Saeson, Cwmtawe, Cwrt Sart, Cymer Afan, Dwr y Felin, Dyffryn, Llangatwg and Sandfields
The four teams that reach the semi-final stage in each of the four regional heats progress to the grand final.
Inspector Gary Ash, who is in charge of BTP’s Welsh neighbourhood policing teams, said: “The Railway Safety Cup is now in its third year, and the response from schools has been outstanding.
“Not only does the tournament allow pupils to take part in the football competition, it also gives us an opportunity to raise awareness of safety within the railway environment and the inherent dangers of trespass.
“While clearly enjoying the football over the past two years, it has been extremely encouraging to see the youngsters take on board the inherent dangers of railway trespass and the consequences this could have on themselves and their families.”
Tracey Young, Network Rail community safety manager, said: “We know boredom is often a big factor in kids’ decisions to mess around on the railway, putting their lives and the lives of others at risk.
“This event will show them that there are more positive ways to spend their time as we head towards the summer.”