At this year’s FSF awards we’re instituting a new category to recognise the efforts of non-league clubs and their supporters who, despite huge challenges and tight budgets, ensure the survival of the game outside the professional leagues. In the second half of a two-part blog, Maria Horner introduces the final three of this year’s nominees…
Altrincham have been a champion of our Fans for Diversity work. The club appointed Jordan Tyms as their inclusion and diversity coordinator. Jordan says: “Since the club launched its first inclusion strategy, we have acquired a new disabled shelter, worked with children from six local schools to run a competition to design an Alty shirt and designated league matches for the Fans for Diversity and Football v Homophobia campaigns.
“This year the club signed up to support On the Ball, providing free sanitary products at football grounds and were proud to be the 19th club from all levels in the UK to sign up to the campaign.
“On Non-League day we promoted the Fans for Diversity campaign and invited Paralympic Gold medallists Neil and Lora Fachie to the match. We have also developed a relationship with Altrincham and Hale Muslim Association and entered three teams alongside them in a six-a-side Fans for Diversity football tournament, hosted by Curzon Ashton FC.
“The club’s community team are very active; providing football coaching in six primary schools – that’s more than 500 children every week.
“At Moss Lane, the club deliver 30 hours of activity per week including: walking football, mini kickers football, senior exercise classes, yoga, disability football and table cricket. They also deliver eleven holiday fun weeks per year offering football and multi-sports at a low-cost rate for families. The club has also been a collection point for the local food bank and homeless charity.” Jordan is also a member of FSF & Kick it Out’s Fans for Diversity guidance group.
Boston United FC
More than four hundred people aged between six and 75 are representing Boston United every week playing in affiliated teams and sports such as basketball, badminton, cheerleading and football.
2018 has been an excellent year for the club and Boston United Community Foundation, as community manager Nick Reeson says: “We’ve seen just how vital, beneficial, and life-changing the club’s work really is.
“Our thriving football programme has 32 teams representing Boston United in various formats of football, including, Mixed teams, disability, women’s and girls and walking football.”
This year the club has seen some notable successes:
• Dave Scotney has represented England’s walking football over-50s team.
• 16-year-Old Goalkeeper Olivia Clark made her international debut for Wales Women U19 and was included in the Wales Women senior squad for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against England, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Russia.
• 16-year-Old Jess Edwards was called up to a Scotland U16 training camp.
• An 18-year-old student from Boston United’s sports college Jack Withers was signed by Premier League Swansea City on a two-year professional contract on the final day of the January transfer window.
“We have provided more than 2,000 hours of work experience placements supporting local education establishments by helping young people with their future career choices,” Nick adds. “The charity continues to deliver inclusive sporting opportunities working with participants with a range of impairments ensuring they can access opportunities to participate in the clubs thriving community programme.
“Volunteers are at the heart of the charities work with more than 80 volunteers supporting our core activities. Roy Hackford, a trustee of the charity, was named Vanarama volunteer of the month in September. He is an excellent example of how volunteers are supporting both the club and the community.”
Eastbourne Borough FC
Good football clubs give more than they take says Eastbourne Borough media officer Kevin Anderson. “We are passionate about what we give back to our community,” he said. “Almost 500 boys and girls play here, for those a bit older there’s walking football, women’s football and health education projects such as ‘Man v Fat’.
“Beyond football, the club hosts indoor bowls, archery and darts, a nursery and networking business breakfasts. The club also supports young offenders on their supervised community service.
“We regularly welcome groups of disabled adults helping at the ground, and among our proudest achievements are our efforts in disability sport. With support from our charity trust, Acorns, we offer Frame Football for children with cerebral palsy.
“Priory Lane also hosts the thriving 1066 Specials. 1066 because William the Conqueror landed on a nearby beach, Specials – well, because they are! The players have learning disabilities; we support them, so they too can fully enjoy this great sport, which rightly belongs to everyone, all ages, all abilities, every walk of life. We plan to expand Frame Football by organising tournaments and to create a wider model for disability football – rather as the Paralympics have done – we will call it our Spirit of Football squad.
“Another plan is to establish a permanent link with Uganda. In the summer, Borough academy player Dan Blackmore and other students spent three weeks working in a rural village, delivering footballs, Eastbourne Borough kits and coaching them.
“At Eastbourne Borough, we don’t just say it, we mean it, and we put it into thriving action! Cheeky enough to borrow Barcelona’s famous motto, Mas Que Un Club…. more than a club; we’re a family and a community.”
If you or your club want the support of the Fans for Diversity campaign in your community outreach work, please email – firstname.lastname@example.org
By fans, for fans – join the FSF for free here.