The Last Word: Football has yet to recognise its power to heal broken lives

Those at the top should join the families of murder victims Jimmy and David to change attitudes

Jimmy Mizen and David Idowu were faithful sons, assiduous students whose love of football was nurtured by two emotionally-driven clubs, Millwall and Liverpool. In life they were strangers; in death they are intertwined.

Jimmy, born 30 minutes before the FA Cup final kicked off on 9 May 1992, expired in his brother's arms, the day after his 16th birthday, his jugular vein severed by a one-and-a-half inch sliver of a glass dish thrown by his murderer.

David was playing football on a basketball court near his home in south London when he was stabbed through the heart by a gang member from a rival school. He fought for life for 20 days before succumbing, aged 14.

Their legacy is one of hope in the midst of despair, forgiveness in the face of unfathomable loss. It is channelled through charitable foundations, overseen by their parents. "Release the Peace," a joint initiative in their names, will be launched today with a concert at the O2 Arena in London.

The campaign is designed to reward young people who serve their communities, and to raise awareness of the consequences of violent crime. If football can stop navel-gazing and recognise its social responsibilities, it can help foster a climate of reflection and reconciliation, rather than retribution.

Bereaved families do not want its money. They want its audience and its advocacy. Sport, especially football, is a reference point for an initiative which incorporates visits to schools, clubs, prisons and young offenders' institutions. Jimmy's father, Barry, a man of remarkable resilience and serenity, sets the tone: "You wonder if people at the highest level of football realise the potential they have to be a force for good. Most victims and their families have an allegiance to a football club, however tentative. Imagine the power we could harness if we speak with a single voice, and get the message across that we have to change."

It will not be a one-way process, because football needs all the perspective it can get.

We are being conditioned to believe that today's proposed handshake between Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole has the gravity of the First World War Armistice.

Its pretensions, and those of the current scuffle for ownership of football's moral molehill, are exposed by the forgiveness shown by Grace Idowu to her son's killer, whom she met in a prison chapel. Today has a special resonance for the Idowu family, because the concert coincides with David's favourite football occasion, the Merseyside derby. She hopes to involve Steven Gerrard, his hero, by asking him to sign a "peace car" that will take redemptive messages to the streets.

Millwall have been involved with the Mizens since Jimmy's murder. A workshop at the New Den entitled "It doesn't have to happen" featured the family and Richard Taylor, father of Damilola, the 10-year-old who bled to death in a stairwell after being stabbed returning from school.

To declare an interest, I spent a season at Millwall, researching a book on a club hampered by lazy, incoherent stereotyping. There are few fairytales – investigations into alleged racial abuse of Bolton striker Marvin Sordell involve a teenager – but it plays a key role in a multi-cultural, multi-faith community.

Barry Mizen is unequivocal: "Without Millwall, my family would have gone under."

He will make a gesture of thanks when the New Den stages "Jimmy's Day" on December 1. Everyone at the game against Charlton will be given a wristband.

Jermain Defoe, whose half-brother was murdered in similar circumstances to Jimmy and David, is aligned to the cause, but attempts to engage other England players have been unsuccessful because of the cordon around them. Footballers can give substance to fractured lives. This is a chance for them to be the people we want them to be.

Rodgers gets lost in Office politics

Today's episode of Being: Brendan, staged on location at Goodison Park, may lack the comedy value of the Being: Liverpool documentary, but it will offer an insight into whether there is substance to the soundbites.

Since Brendan Rodgers is fond of motivational quotes, in English or Latin, it is fitting we should gauge his progress by referring to two US coaches whose philosophy he espouses.

Phil Jackson, basketball's Zen master, insists: "You have to be a salesman to get your players, particularly your leaders, to believe in what you are trying to achieve."

Steven Gerrard's evident puzzlement, when Rodgers performed his infamous three-envelope trick, and Jamie Carragher's disdainful expression, in team talks, suggests there is work to do.

Bill Walsh, the late, great NFL coach, said: "The best coaches know the job is to win, but are sensitive to the feelings, loyalties and emotions people have to one another."

That hardly concurs with Andy Carroll's brutal despatch, or the clumsy marginalisation of Jordan Henderson.

Liverpool's great strength is its authenticity. Rodgers probably had to submit to trial by TV, but if he wants to avoid parody as Melwood's answer to David Brent, he'd better start Being: Himself.

Sinker Taylor

Gordon Taylor, football's millionaire trade unionist, likes gesture politics. The PFA's six-point plan to combat racism bore his hallmarks. Expedient and unconvincing, it compromised more impressive advocates like Bobby Barnes and Clarke Carlisle. Time to go, Gordon?

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015