Football Behind Bars Premiere

Monday September 7 at 10pm

Exclusive To SKY1 HD & SKY1

Public concern regarding issues such as anti-social behaviour, gang culture and knife crime continues to grow, and with over 70% of offenders aged 18-20 years old re-offending within a two year period post release. In FOOTBALL BEHIND BARS, starting Monday 7th September at 10pm, exclusive to Sky1 HD and Sky1, former professional footballer and young offender Ian Wright is on a personal mission to try and break this cycle.

Across the six part series, FOOTBALL BEHIND BARS will show what life is like inside for young offenders at Portland Young Offenders Institution, and will follow Ian’s work helping them create and participate in their own football academy. 

Armed with his own personal motivation of tackling adversity to change his own wayward path, Ian Wright hopes to use football as a way of instilling in the young offenders a sense of pride, achievement and motivation towards a better future. Trials, open to all inmates, will select a squad of 24 who will make up the first wave of the new football academy. Discipline and hard work are then essential if the offenders are to keep their squad place, as weekly assessments with Ian take place, culminating in an exhibition match at the end of the series.

Fitting in with the institution’s exercise schedule, trainers, physios and sports psychologists will work alongside the prison’s own Physical Education team, headed up by Barry Clark. As well as nurturing footballing talent, the series will also show how essential life skills such as organisation, anger management, communication, trust and team work play in the rehabilitation and social integration into society of young offenders on their release.

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  • Sickened

    One of the so called footballers is the kid who stole my jewellery, including my late mother’s wedding ring. Sorry, but I find it hard to watch something like this. What’s being done for the victims of these thugs???? NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sickened

    One of the so called footballers is the kid who stole my jewellery, including my late mother’s wedding ring. Sorry, but I find it hard to watch something like this. What’s being done for the victims of these thugs???? NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • seinih

    I doubt anything anyone can say will make you feel better as your experience is personal to you however the point of this is too prevent re-offending so in a way when you ask what is being done for victims it is about protecting the public from more crime. It’s probably not a response that you want but I work with kids like these on a daily basis, some of the stories, backgrounds and history of these kids is shocking and appalling. Bad parenting breeds young adults lacking in respect, aspiration, and with no regard for others, it doesnt however stop them having children of their own and perpetuating another cycle. Deal with the individuals now and perhaps we wont spawn another generation of children so lacking in the ability to respect others and their property.

  • I have just seen episode 2 of Football Behind Bars with Ian Wright where we helped provide the inmates with new skills in assertiveness rather than aggression.

    I have great sympathy for the previous comment and believe that punishment needs to be tough, but also that if you don’t effectively re-educate it’s going to happen all over again.

    The merits of the football focus are worthy of a separate debate, but helping aggressive young men deal with their anger management and helping prevent further assault or over-reactions are in my opinion vital and that’s why we at MAX do what we do.

    We also teach young children and adults and use the same methodology – learning under pressure cements the experience and gives you tools to cope with distressing and frightening situations whilst avoiding violence. If all children did this kind of training and learnt boundaries early on, we’d have a safer community.

    Mark Wingfield

  • Anonymous

    I think Ian Wright has been the victim of an elaborate PR stunt by the prison service,some of the staff featured in this programme have very dark pasts & are not what I would call glowing examples that will help rehabilitate these young men.

    The governor Steve Holland has a serious alcohol problem that he refuses to address,this often turns into violence, something that is very familiar to the pattern of offending to the men who are locked up. I watched last weeks episode with complete shock as he made comments about hating bullies, bullying is his preferred management style, even to the point where one officer had a breakdown & was forced to retire.

    The senior PEI has a reputation for womanising, there was even a time when he was caught in the back of a car having sex with a prison cook, the person who caught him was a prisoner tustee cleaning the outside areas.

    The other PEI Alex also has domestic violence issues.

    Hardly a glowing example to these troubled young men are they ?

  • Anonymous

    I agree with some of the tactics they use to reform these characters but…

    Why wait until they have committed so many heinous crimes. The eligibility for this type of scheme seems at best dubious. The problem here is crime does pay for these kids and the consequences are minimal. Prison is unfortunately not the deterrent it used to be. I believe the sentences should be longer and kids should be made very aware of what will happen to them if they commit a crime. If they fully understood the reality of being locked up with violent, sadistic felons they may think twice. Anger management should be taught at schools, as well as informing kids about the consequences of crime.

    If we could reduce offending rather than re-offending then we could use the huge amount of money we spend on locking them up on fixing the system that fails them. It costs between 30 and 70 grand a year to incarcerate these young men, this could be better spent on youth schemes and social workers turning these guys lives round at a much earlier stage.

    I agree with the previous comment “it’s a PR stunt”, It seems to me here that the film makers are a little short sighted and prefer looking at the world through rose tinted glasses…

  • NPH


    I sympathise with your viewpoint and understand where you come from.

    You ask – “What is being done for the victims?” – Can I ask what exactly you would like?

    The perpetrator has lost his liberty – What more would you want? Death? Flogging?

    Now that he is in custody, it is important that efforts are made to STOP him repeating his poor behaviour when he gets released, thereby preventing someone else from going through what you went through. Surely this is more beneficial than locking him up for a period of time, then releasing him back into the community with no efforts made to rehabilitate them.

    I am a serving police officer, and I do feel for victims – infact it is my motivation. However, I also feel that when offenders are identified and brought to book, efforts MUST be made to break the offending cycle. Ian Wrights academy is aimed at doing just that.

    I dont think anyone could fail to be moved by the victim of crime that went in and gave the lads a talk – extremely courageous – The impact it had on the lads was clearly evident, and typifies what Wrights academy is about – Challenging offending behaviour, making offenders think, and most importantly – breaking that cycle.

    Well done Mr Wright – Your efforts are to be applauded.

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