Even More Girls On the Road to Wembley

For the second successive year, a record number of girls have taken part in The Football League’s Girls Cup Competition. There are subsequently more girls on the road to Wembley.

The tournament culminates in a once in a lifetime opportunity to play at Wembley before the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final in April. This year 6,288 girls, aged under 13, have taken part in the group stages of the Kinder+Sport Football League Girls Cup. This is an increase of more than 200 girls from last year, which in turn was over 1000 more than the previous record and an increase in of over 23% in the last two years.

Mike Evans, Director of Operations for The Football League Trust, commented: “Following on from the Lionesses success at the World Cup, there is a real buzz about women’s and girl’s football. Both The Football League and Premier League clubs, with funding from the FA and Sport England have worked hard to grow the female game. Our Female Football Development programme has successfully attracted over 30,000 Women and Girls aged 14-28 into football in the last two years. These strengthened connections between schools and their local club has meant another record breaking year in the Kinder+Sport Girl’s Cup.”

The competition, which is organised on behalf of The Football League by The Football League Trust, has a unique format. Each of the 72 Football League clubs run a competition for their local schools, with the winners representing their club, through various stages, on the road to Wembley.  The 72 winners went forward to compete at the Area Finals which were held across the country. The eight area winners will now compete in the regional finals, with two teams winning the once in a lifetime place at Wembley .

Elthorne High School representing Brentford and Northfield School & Sports College representing Hartlepool make their way out for the Kinder+Sport Football League Girls Cup final
In the North

Middlesbrough will be represented by Macmillan Academy

Blackburn Rovers will be represented by Greenbank High School

Shrewsbury Town will be represented by Thomas Telford School

Derby County will be represented by Kirk Hallam


In the South

Millwall will represented by Harris Academy Falconwood

Cambridge United will be represented by Botisham Village College

Swindon Town will be represented by John Bentley School

Brentford will be represented by Teddington School


Evans added: “We have more girls on the road to Wembley, meaning they have a once-in-a-lifetime experience within their grasp. However, perhaps the most important outcome is that the competition is encouraging so many girls to be active at an early age.”

How We Use the Power of Sport to Change Lives

“Thanks to the football club I’ve become the person I always knew I could be.”

For Lizzie, alcohol and drugs used to be the norm. But thanks to Derby County’s Active Choices drug and rehabilitation programme, Lizzie has been drug free for two years and has moved from supported housing to living independently.

Having built confidence, developed social skills and improved her all round wellbeing, Lizzie’s story is just one of many that highlights just how Football League clubs and the work of their community trusts are improving lives the length and breadth of the country.

With 72 club trusts in its network, we are a national charity using the power of sport and the magnetism of associated Football League club badges to connect with people in local communities that many organisations struggle to reach.

Guided by four key themes of sport, education, health and inclusion, the work of our network has significant social value be it inspiring people to learn, supporting people into a healthier lifestyle or providing opportunities to disengaged and disadvantaged individuals.


A focus on social outcomes

With a “new focus on social outcomes” in the Government’s recently released New Strategy for Sport, we welcome this policy shift and believe that it is well placed to help support the strategy’s aims through a wide range of work undertaken by its 72 member clubs.

Brentford, just one of the 72 members, had its contribution to the community independently estimated to be £8.5m last year. The value of its work in the community was recognised by the Council when it came to approving the plans for a new stadium:

“The Council also affords weight to the fact that the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust has extensive preventative health, sporting participation and education benefits that would enhance the health, well-being and social opportunities for many people in the area.”

And while football is a core part of the operation, we are neither a ‘football organisation’ nor a ‘governing body’, but instead a diverse organisation that uses a variety of sports to deliver projects that offer real social impact.


More than football

By keeping sport at the heart of the operation, improving health is a natural goal for many clubs who run programmes get people active, reduce obesity, promote healthy eating and foster good mental health.

Of course, physical activity has significant social and economic benefits. For young people it’s important the benefits of a healthy lifestyle are taught early and last year the Kinder+Sport Move and Learn project reached 40,000 children moving. This can only benefit society in the long term.

Similarly schemes such as Blackpool FC’s ‘Altogether Now’, Barnsley’s ‘Fit Reds’ and Swindon Town’s ‘Fit Fans’ can be found at clubs around the country getting adults active. Indeed, at Swindon a group of 30 fans lost a combined 40 stone in just three months transforming the lives of all those involved,  showing the effect and the power of sport at a great level.

With inclusion a core theme, community trusts offer something for everyone and it is significant that Walking Football is the fastest growing scheme at our trust. Aimed at over 50’s, the first ever National Walking Football Tournament took place gave the likes like Tony Bradshaw on Wigan Athletic’s community scheme the opportunity play sport again, meet new friends and lose four stone along the way. He said; “The camaraderie is unbelievable”.

And from one growing form of football to another, our Female Football Development programme has introduced over 30,000 new women and girls to the game in the last year.


Inclusion, education and health

Beyond sporting participation, community trusts do some fantastic work supporting disadvantaged people and provide opportunities that offer a brighter future.

Schemes such as Middlesbrough FC Foundation’s ‘Raise Your Game’ and Fulham’s ‘My Future Goals’ aims to get young people into work who are not in education or employment. To date 75% of the 300 who have been on Fulham’s scheme are now working, studying or training at a return of £6.92 for every £1 invested.

At Charlton Athletic Community Trust, Emeka’s journey took him from brushes with the criminal justice system through gang activity to receiving the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s ‘Outstanding Person of the Year Award’.

Not only can the social value of stories such as Emeka’s be overlooked, but nor can their estimated economic value – the social value of Charlton Athletic’s mentoring programme alone has been calculated to be over £2,373,800.

Whatever the age, our trust uses the power of sport to educate and develop skills for life. Starting with the very young, the network works with thousands of primary schools across the country. This year, Hull City’s Primary enrichment curriculum sessions engaged 12,000 people alone while The Football League Kids and Girls Cups involved over 20,000 young people.

Beyond school years, our trust provides valuable opportunities for development through the FUTSAL education programme, Community Football Degree and an Open University Degree in Business Management (Sport & Football).

By the same token, our trust delivers the Government’s National Citizenship Service programme through League clubs helping a young person’s transition to becoming an adult. 10,000 people between the ages of 15-17 now taking part annually, each taking the opportunity to develop as individuals and make a real difference to their community.

So be it on the pitch or off it, there is no doubt that football – and sport in general – makes society a richer place. Be it a united community, an upskilled workforce or quite simply a happier population, the tangible benefits of sport are there for all to see.

Players Back NCS

Football Players across the country will be backing the National Citizen Service (NCS) programme during the NCS Match Day Takeover.

Over the next two weekends football clubs and players will support the NCS Match Day Takeover which will celebrate NCS and the voluntary work done in the local community by young people on the programme.Picture2

Each Football Club’s Community Trusts are part of a national movement of NCS which has had huge impacts on young people and local communities. To date, over 1.9 million hours of social action has taken place across the country, the equivalent to building 74 Olympic Stadiums and 1 Great Wall of China.

Players will have an integral part on the day, firstly by warming up in NCS t-shirts. They will also meet past graduates of NCS to congratulate them on the impact they have had in their community .

NCS Graduates will be on hand throughout the day to increase the interest of younger fans and talk to them about their NCS experience. The Graduates involved are part of a network of 200,000 young people that have participated in the programme.

Using the Power of football, The Football League Trust are placed in a unique position to publicise the amazing work that our NCS graduates are doing during the programme and after.

If you are attending one of the below games please tell us on the day using #NCSMatchDay to @NCSFLT.

Coventry City’s Aaron Martin is an Unsung Hero

Ask Coventry City’s Aaron Martin about the work he does in the community around Coventry and you would think he is nothing special. Ask anyone else and you realise immediately that the opposite is true.

It is why the 26-year-old central defender hasbeen named the Sky Bet Football League Unsung Hero of the Month for January.

“Aaron is just a dream. Whatever we ask him, he’ll do,” says David Busst, former Coventry City player and now the club’s Community Director.

“He is a leading example to the younger players.He genuinely wants to help. And he doesn’t just turn up to an event. Before we get there, he wants toknow what it’s about, why we are there, what are the circumstances of the young people or the group we’re visiting. And when we get there, he’s very open to doing anything we want him to do.Capture Aaron Matin

“At the Junior Sky Blues Christmas party thisyear, he wassigning autograph after autograph for three-and-a-half hours. The players were supposed to be there for no more than two hours but people and their kids were still queueing. Aaron was the first one to say: ‘No, we’ll go when all of the kids have got their autographs.’

“Another time, for one of our inclusion projects we went out to an estate in Rugby for a session with underprivileged kids from single parent families. Aaron came along with another lad, who was on loan with us, and he joined in the sessions, playing football when he really shouldn’t have had any physical involvement because he had a game on the Saturday. The feedback we got was brilliant.

“He’s always coming up to me to say: ‘I did an appearance a few weeks ago. When’s the next one?’ I’ve been doing this job for the club for coming up to 20 years now, and every now and again you fall upon a gem like Aaron.”

Martin doesn’t see it that way, although he does admit that recent events and personal circumstances have increased his desire to do more than others.

This season alone, he has made seven community visits on behalf of the club, giving 24 hours of his time in addition to attending countless club events.

He has also visited a number of schools, helping children from disadvantaged communities to read, eat healthily and become active, especially in the Bell Green and Wood End area of Coventry, which has just been named the most deprived area of the country.

Martin said: “A lot has happened over the last year or two with close friends and family. A few of my friends have lost people very close to them. I just feel that I am in a privileged position to do more, so I’m going to do more from now on.

“We go into the schools and have a chat with some of the kids, sign some stuff and take photos with them.

“It’s very important to eat properly. You see so much in the news about kids being overweight. It’s really important that they learn how to eat properly, just for them to have a better life. If we can help to teach them at an early age that maybe they are eating the wrong sorts of food or that they need to eat smaller portions than what they do, it will lead to them being a lot healthier.

“And it will help to bring the statistics down like Jamie Oliver does with his work in getting healthy eating into schools, which I think is brilliant.

“I know that it’s expensive to eat really healthily and you can understand with parents who don’t have a lot of money that food does take a step back in terms of eating the right things, because the foods that aren’t as good for you aren’t as expensive. It is hard but if they know what to eat, maybe they will change it a little bit.”

Martin admits that he has also been inspired by the arrival of England international Joe Cole at Coventry this season.

He added: “Joe is brilliant. I did a school visit with him and some of his answers to the kids’ questions were brilliant. He’s a prime example of how you should be. You can tell how grown up he is. He has come in to the club and just gets on with everybody so well.

“For what he’s achieved and what he’s done in the game, he could easily come in and waltz around, but he doesn’t. He is top, top class. He shows the way to be.”

Martin’s most striking act on behalf of others this season was a £1,000 donation he made to the local University Hospital in Coventry. He originally offered to donate £1,000 worth of toys to the children’s unit but, after consulting with the University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire (UHCW) Charity, agreed to contribute towards the creation of a beach scene at the entrance to the Children’s Emergency Department.

“The UHCW is trying to make hospital a less frightening experience for children,” said Adela Appleby, head of UHCW. “The Children’s Emergency Department has been transformed into a bespoke under-sea scene and the virtual beach is the final stage.

“Coventry City are great supporters of the project. The players spend time with the children around Christmas and together the players and staff buy a gift for us for the children’s unit. This year they bought us a big plasma screen TV and a DVD recorder for the teenagers’ chill-out room.

“Aaron wanted to do more. He asked personally what he could do to help us. He really got what a difference the environment can make to children coming into hospital. And the children, their families and the staff are thrilled to have his support. It’s a real boost for everybody and his donation has also helped us to create awareness for the appeal.

“It’s fantastic that he is getting the Unsung Hero award. It’s really important for people to know that footballers are committed to the community.”

Martin, who hails from the Isle of Wight, understands his status as a hero for the children he visits. He still remembers the thrill of not only meeting his boyhood hero, Southampton defender Rahdi Jaidi, but then training and playing alongside the Tunisia international when he joined the club as a trainee.

“I used to watch Rahdi as a kid and thought: ‘Oh, wow, I want to be like him. So to actually meet him and play with him was a great feeling. And he’s a friend now.’

“I understand that for the kids we meet to listen to people who are doing what they probably want to do is a big thing for them.

“From a very early age I believed that you are privileged as a footballer. Being able to do what we do day in day out and being healthy the majority of the time. But then just being able to walk down the street is a privilege in itself and being able to go to the shop whenever you want.

“Every time we go to the hospital to visit the kids, I just think about if that was my kids or that was me in the situation of having to spend that much time in hospital at such a young age. When you’re a kid, you just want to be out playing all the time.

“We try and teach kids and give them a bit of hope, especially with the hospital visits. Even if the children are asleep or they can’t interact, you can see that it still gives their parents a lift when you go in there. When you have the lowest of lows, it can make a massive difference for people like us to come in and wish them all the best. It gives them a boost.

“And when you get a bit older, you start to realise it’s the little things that count. The things that have happened over the last few years have really made me grow up and given me a perspective on life.

“A couple of my very good friends, their parents have suffered with cancer and died, so I want to do more on that side for Cancer Research, Macmillan and organisations like that in the future. I think that anything you can do, you should do. If I can do more, then I will.

“It’s a little bit embarrassing to get an award because that’s not what you do it for. You do it to try and make a difference. It is great that it is recognised, but it’s more important that people who can, should help out a bit more. I’ll try and do as much as I can when I can and hopefully it makes that tiny bit of difference.”

Colchester FITC Launch New Scheme

Thanks to Colchester United, and the Colchester FITC (Football In the Community) team, 700 Key Stage 2 Children, across 9 schools within Colchester and North East Essex, will be learning about the dangers of poor lifestyle choices and healthy hearts.Colchester United

Heart Research UK and SUBWAY®, have awarded £8,500 to the Colchester FITC Scheme, which will fund a new project that will educate young people in local schools about heart health, imparting knowledge and awareness that will be of great benefit to the children for the rest of their lives!

Beginning this month, ‘Cardio-Active’, the six-month project, will also cover preventative measures like interpreting food labels so that heart health becomes an essential part of day to day life. Children will also learn about the benefits of exercise as part of six, hour-long Healthy Heart workshops and linked sports activities. As well as getting them more active at school, the project will help to increase physical activity by challenging pupils to move about for at least a mile a day throughout the session by walking or jogging. They will be asked to keep a log of this and at least one walk a week be with a family member to increase parent or sibling involvement.

The Colchester FITC Manager Corin Haines is delighted with the project, adding that “the importance of heart health and reducing the risks of heart diseases cannot be emphasised enough and we are proud to be working towards this with local school and children in our community. As well as spending some time in the class room with these children we will be getting them active and making sure they are aware of the benefits that sport and exercise has to your health and wellbeing”.

Each participating child will receive a workbook, which will feature a Colchester United players to keep it fun and engaging, as well as promoting positive role models for the children.

To conclude the project, a matchday celebration event will take place on Saturday 16th April at the club’s Weston Homes Community Stadium, where children and their families will be challenged to move a mile during half-time of the match. Health checks will also be offered to attending parents in the family concourse.

Heart Research UK National Director, Barbara Harpham, said: “It’s great to see Colchester United Football in the Community helping hearts of young people living near them, learning good habits that will last them a lifetime.

“This project will also bring children and their families together and help people to live healthier, happier and longer lives”.

Click here to find out more.


FFD: Developing the whole of the Women’s Football

From the grassroots to elite level The Football League Trust’s Female Football Development programme is benefiting the whole of the Women’s game, a report reveals this week.ffd2-4x3549-1961081_478x359

Over 30,000 Women and girls were successfully engaged in the first two years of the FFD programme and an interim report into the first few months of year three shows the project going from strength to strength. A further 5,600 women and girls have been engaged so far and impressively 85% have been retained within the game.

Nicol Meredith, The Football League Trust’s Women and Girls Development Officer comments, “Although the programme, which focuses on fun, friends and fitness, is about grassroots development and the many benefits of playing sport, FFD is also is also helping bring players into the higher levels of the game. 15% of participants have now moved into affiliated club football including some who are already with WSL clubs. For example Gabby was initially engaged in Brentford’s FFD programme, the sessions gave her the opportunity to get involved with football again after dropping out at a younger age. Gabby recently went for trials to play for Millwall Lionesses (WSL2) and now plays in their U19 team.”

Nicol, continues, “The option of moving on to a play the game at a higher is there if the girls want to take it, however that’s one of many options available once the initial 10 weeks programme has finished. Many Girls prefer to play the game on a more informal basis and we’ve seen 37% go into recreational football activity.