Youngsters from across the North East came together in a football tournament with a very serious message this week.

Teams representing MFC Foundation, Newcastle United Foundation and Sunderland’s Foundation of Light, met at the Herlingshaw Centre to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Premier League Kicks programme.

As well as competing again each other on the football pitch, the three organisations heard powerful messages aimed at combatting knife crime.

The latest figures show Teesside towards the top of the national knife crime charts, Northumberland are also in the top 10.

There were two workshops. One held by The Connor Brown Trust, set up in honour of a young man brutally killed in Sunderland three years ago. It was poignant and timely delivery on the anniversary of the day he was attacked; aged just 18, he died the following day.

If that workshop touched on the personal tragedy inflicted not just on the victim, but their friends and family, one later in the day from Barney Green, consultant vascular surgeon at James Cook University Hospital left staff and participants in no doubt about the effects of a knife.

It was a brilliantly graphic and harrowing presentation using photos from real life situations.

Organised by MFC Foundation in association with the office of Steve Turner, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland who spoke with scores of participants and handed out medals at the end, this was a day where the message was a whole lot more important than a football score.