A forgiving father whose son was the victim of an attempted robbery in Catsbrook Park, Luton, wants the youth to hand himself in - so he can give him free football coaching.
Tony McCool, 39, of Limbury, runs MG Football Ltd with ex-LTFC player Kevin Gallen and said he would like to “give the boy a chance” rather than seeing him get “a slap on the wrist” after the incident on Monday.
Son Jack McCool, 15, who plays for Queens Park Rangers Academy U16s, was walking home from Cardinal Newman School when he saw a group of teens threatening another boy with a large plank of wood. He and his friend intervened and managed to get away without anyone being hurt.
Mr McCool said: “A group of about five lads were trying to take this boy’s bag, and they had a big three foot piece of wood which they were using to threaten them. We reported it to the police because the lads matched the descriptions I’d seen of other robberies in Catsbrook Park recently.”
Police say there have been a number of attempted robberies involving schoolboys and are warning people to be careful.
Mr McCool said: “The police are taking it seriously but people want more than that. People are talking about having parent patrols to make sure children get home safely but that’s not the answer.
“The lads who are doing this, they might be from difficult backgrounds. They might not want to be involved in crime. It wouldn’t be hard for me to find out who this boy who did this to my lad is, but what’s the point? He’ll have the book thrown at him, a criminal record, and then his life is ruined. If he comes forward, he can come on one of my courses for free, come and learn how to be a good citizen.”
Mr McCool, who grew up in Lewsey Farm, is already working with the council on how to provide football courses for disadvantaged teens and the attempted robbery on his son has prompted him to think about running courses in Catsbrook Park.
He said: “My son is not angry about it. He meets all kinds of boys from different backgrounds at QPR. Sometimes they come from awful environments, but they are all good kids.
“This boy in the park may have issues at home. This is an olive branch. He can come to my football course, he might discover he has great talent. It’s an opportunity.” >Go to www.2touchfootball.co.uk to find out more.