EXCLUDED youngsters are being encouraged to turn to sports instead of delinquency in crime hotspots.

Brent Council's Community Safety and Development team has introduced an innovative sports programme to reach kids living in Wembley Central, St Raphael's and Stonebridge who normally find themselves excluded from such activities.

The Wembley Crime Action Zone sports initiative kicks off with a five-day half-term holiday project in Stonebridge including a football competition and basketball.

A successful soccer tournament has already been generated by the team for 80 young Somalis at Bridge Park last December. It is now working towards setting up five-a-side leagues on nearby estates.

The Single Regeneration Budget-funded programme will offer opportunities to excluded youngsters through referrals from Brent's Youth Offending Team, as well as education and social services.

"This is an innovative and exciting project offering young people an opportunity to become involved in the community and develop skills through sports," said Cllr Lincoln Beswick.