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Last Updated: Monday, 3 March 2008, 19:01 GMT
Rhys's father launches tournament
Rhys Jones
Rhys was killed as he walked through a pub car park
The father of Rhys Jones has launched a football tournament with an anti-gun message in his son's memory.

Rhys, 11, was shot and killed by a hooded youth as he walked home from football practice in Croxteth Park, Liverpool, in August last year.

The Rhys Jones Memorial Cup was launched by his father Stephen and Steve Geoghegan, the coach of Rhys's team the Fir Tree under-12s.

Mr Jones said the aim was to encourage youngsters to join teams not gangs.

The 45-year-old said: "Everything Rhys did revolved around football, it was his life.

"If he wasn't playing it, he was watching it, or looking up some useless fact about it. And everyone knows how mad he was about his beloved Everton.

"When Steve Geoghegan called and we talked about a tournament in Rhys's memory, I was happy to do that.

"Everton and Liverpool Football Clubs got involved and it just snowballed from there."

'Never forgotten'

The competition will be open to 16 under-12 girls' and boys' teams from Merseyside, which will win their places through their local Fair Play leagues - they award points for good behaviour on the pitch.

Mr Jones said: "But it is not only about football, we hope to get the message across to children to join a team not a gang."

Mr Jones hopes the tournament's model will be adopted by County FAs across the country.

Mr Geoghegan, said Fir Tree FC had initially disbanded because the team couldn't bear to play football on its usual pitch near the spot where Rhys was killed.

"The lads are always talking about Rhys, he'll never be forgotten but they are now moving forward and ready to play as a team again.

"The tournament gives all the kids in the local leagues something to aim for and a chance to use their free time and holidays more constructively."

The tournament will be held at the youth academies of Everton and Liverpool football clubs and the final is likely to be held at Goodison Park or Anfield.





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