All 72 EFL Club Community Trusts across the country came together on 19th March 2019, as part of the EFL Day of Action, to showcase the work they are each doing, to support people in their own area and to demonstrate the power of football to improve the quality of life for local people. As well as the hundreds of community trust staff and volunteers, players, club managers and coaching staff all got involved in projects, helping people in need within the neighbourhoods around each club. Schools, hospitals, homelessness centres and projects for young offenders were amongst the array of locations to host activities, all contributing to the tremendous impact that club community trusts make all year round.
Several of the clubs, including Exeter, Coventry and Nottingham Forest used the day to highlight some of the disability football work being funded as part of WNST’s Every Player Counts programme, delivered in partnership with the EFL Trust.
WNST Chief Executive, Stewart Goshawk, took the opportunity to visit Luton Town FC Community Trust, who put on a fantastic disability football festival, including a fun football tournament for around 50 of their project participants and activities.
The event was made all the more special for the players by the presence of club manager, Mick Harford and two of the first team squad, captain Sonny Bradley and goalkeeper, James Shea. Mick took time out of his busy schedule to talk to many of the participants, whilst Sonny and James put on the bibs and joined in one of the games, as well as presenting the trophy to the winning team. Thanks also to the Luton Town chairman, David Wilkinson, who came along to lend his support, as well as the trustees of the Community Trust and its Chief Executive, Kevin Thoburn.
Stewart Goshawk said, “Of course, the football is important and that is what inspires the participants to come along in the first place. But it is all of the other skills that they develop which can have such a real and positive impact on daily life – whether that is learning to travel independently, work as part of a group or improve their self-confidence and communication.
“Several players have gone on to get volunteer placements and paid work at the club or with the local authority, using the new skills they have acquired through the Community Trust – and all through coming to play football. The power of the game and the pull of the club shirt can’t be underestimated. Through our ‘Every Player Counts’ programme, we have over 5,000 individual stories from up and down the country, of how playing football has help to change lives. The collective impact of this is massive.”