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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Mother of murdered teenager holds football tournament in his memory

This is Local London

30th August

By Hermione Wright »

The mother of a promising footballer who was stabbed to death two years ago held a football tournament in his name today.

Yvonne Lawson (centre) with teenagers at her workshop

Godwin Lawson, 17, who lived in Enfield, died in March 2010 after he was stabbed in the heart in Stamford Hill by 20-year-old Moise Avorgah.

The teenager, who grew up in Tottenham and had dreams of playing for Manchester United, had come home for the weekend to see friends after moving to Oxford to complete an Oxford United Football scholarship.

His mother Yvonne is determined to spread the word about the dangers of knife crime through her eldest son’s favourite sport.

Eighty players aged between 15 and 19 came together from London and Oxford to compete in a seven-a-side tournament at White Hart Lane Community Sport Centre in Wood Green.

Promising footballer Godwin Lawson

Mrs Lawson led powerful workshops in which she told teenagers about her son’s life, his death, and her ambitions of banishing postcode rivalry and preventing youths from carrying knives.

She said: “Some days I can’t believe he is never coming back and I won’t be able to have a conversation with him, it is just so unreal.

“The message I want to put across is that if the person who had a knife decided to leave their knife at home, Godwin would still be here. Because he made that decision to go out with a knife with the intention to use it, and he did – he has turned our lives upside down.”

Avorgah, of St Ann's Road in Tottenham, was sentenced in February last year to a minimum of 19 years in jail for the teenager’s murder.

He maintained his innocence throughout the trial and the exact motive for the killing is unknown.

Yvonne Lawson gathered with friends and family after the tournament

Mrs Lawson spoke honestly to the boys, who were silent when she told her story.

She said: “His funeral was a very strange day and it is still a very sad day, because as a parent, when something like this happens, you can never move on from this.

“There is always a constant reminder that we have lost a son because it is the most unnatural thing to happen.

"When you have a child, you have plans for them, you have high expectations for them and the last thing any parent expects to happen is to bury your child.”

Mrs Lawson, who has three other children, asked the boys to make a pledge not to carry a knife on the street in a bid to prevent any other young people from losing their lives through knife crime.

She added: “We go through good days and bad days; some days the tunnel is very dark, some days I just lie in bed and I really don’t want to get up, some days you just want to die with them to know where they are.

“And as a mother, you feel like it is your responsibility to be there with them, but we have to look on the bright side because we have other children and we have to keep going.”

The tournament, which is backed by the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation and Oxford United, is the first in the teenager's name, but Mrs Lawson hopes to hold one each year.

Toby Akintimehin, 17, who was was friends with the teenager and played football against him, is confident the workshops will have a positive impact on the young players.

He said: “When people die, everyone just says he was a good guy, but he was actually was. He was one of those guys that could encourage people. If people were feeling low, he would make them laugh and get them to play football.

“I just know I am not going to carry a knife but if everyone just put their mind to it, it might actually work. We have got to start somewhere.”

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