How football clubs across Europe can improve social inclusion

The English Football League Trust are please to be able to share the results of Pan-European project sharing best practice on how football clubs can improve social inclusion in their communities.  

The EPMIMT project was developed through support and co-funding from the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.

The aims of the project were to create a set of freely accessible online resources for anyone involved in sport-based social inclusion activities.  The project specifically looked at the development and impact of ‘street leagues’  in various European countries including Spain, Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands.  Street leagues involve taking football into locations in the heart of communities suffering from a range of social issues and working with young people in danger of being involved in anti-social behaviour.    

The project was delivered in partnership with the Bundesliga-Stiftung (Germany), The Football Association of Ireland, the European Football for Development Network, the Fundación del Fútbol Profesional (Spain), Gargzdu futbolas (Lithuania), the Scottish Professional Football League Trust and with additional support from Substance.

The results of the EPMIMT project are intended to be of value to organisations across Europe who use sports development programmes to improve their communities.  

The learning resources and case studies are free to use by anyone and are the available online at:

Charlton Athletic to have a float at Pride in London

Charlton Athletic are to become one of the first professional football clubs to participate in Pride in London. 120 people linked to CACT, the club and associated groups will join a Charlton-themed float at this year’s Pride in London parade on Saturday 7 July. Up to now football teams have been represented in the march by their fan groups.

CACT Invicta FC, the first LGBTQI+ friendly football team affiliated to a professional club’s community trust, will join Charlton’s LGBTQI+ supporters’ group, the Proud Valiants, at the procession in Central London, which first took place in 1972.

Participation in the event will celebrate CACT Invicta winning the London Unity League title in their first season affiliated to Charlton, and also CACT’s wider commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.

CACT Invicta FC said:

“Wow, what can we say, we are just blown away that we can be involved in the first ever Pride in London march that Charlton Athletic have ever been a part of. As the first ever LGBTQI+ friendly football club to be formally affiliated to a professional club’s community trust, we get to show the whole of London on 7 July that CACT reaches out to so many people across the South East, the club is one big family, and side by side we support one another – a sign of unity.

“It’s a huge step for the LGBTQI+ community and football as a whole, it allows us to stand united by breaking down barriers and shaking off stereotypes. It’s allowing the next generation within the LGBTQI+ community to believe in football and that football is a sport for all which nobody should ever feel excluded from.

“We are making history and we are delighted to be the start of that”.

Rob Harris, Proud Valiants’ Chair, said:

“Charlton Athletic and CACT have become champions in the fight against homophobia. We are very proud to be taking part in this event and celebrating not only with CACT Invicta but the whole Charlton Family. To make such a visible statement is historic and I hope that anybody in the crowd who has doubts about their sexuality or feels uneasy going to watch football as they fear the atmosphere may realise that football is a sport for all and that Charlton will not accept any form of prejudice.

“Pride tops off an amazing season of events that the Proud Valiants have worked on with the club, CACT and CACT Invicta including a dedicated first-team match in February, the third Charlton v Homophobia Tournament on 22 May and an upcoming conference for other professional clubs around homophobia and setting up supporter groups. All this goes to show how we all here at CAFC are setting the bar for all teams up and down the country.”

Charlton were recently named EFL London Checkatrade Community Club of the Year, with CACT Invicta the club’s showcase project.

Dr Michael Seeraj, CACT’s Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, said:

“This has been a remarkable first season for CACT Invicta, not only winning the London Unity League, but also being commended by the EFL, as part of CACT’s award for winning this season’s EFL London Community Club of the Year. We are committed to tackling discrimination and promoting inclusion, and are extremely proud that CACT Invicta now form an integral part of our wider equality programme. Pride in London will be a fitting finale to what has been a truly incredible year”.

The 120 wristbands that organisers have allocated will be distributed to CACT Invicta, Proud Valiants, and a number of CACT service users from across South East London and Kent, where the organisation’s work takes place.

Other events taking place this year to tackle homophobic abuse in sport include the Charlton v Homophobia football tournament on Tuesday 22 May, jointly hosted by the club and their official LGBTQI+ supporters group the Proud Valiants, which sees four LGBTQI+ friendly teams play 11-a-side matches at The Valley to raise awareness about the importance of creating an inclusive environment on and off the pitch.

CACT Invicta were formed as Bexley Invicta in 2011. Player-Manager Gary Ginnaw didn’t play football competitively for more than 12 years because he felt uncomfortable about the atmosphere. CACT Invicta train and play home matches at the club’s Sparrows Lane training ground, and their model has since been replicated by Norwich City’s Proud Canaries FC.

Proud Valiants were formed four years ago, when a LGBTQ fan approached the club and asked if they would be willing to endorse a supporters’ group for fans who identified as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer, loved football – but may feel isolated. The club welcomed the suggestion and the Proud Valiants were born and have since seen their membership soar. Their members have taken part in debates both here and overseas, and been invited to Parliament – as well as being covered in a wide range of media as front-runners in the battle against homophobia in the game.

National Citizen Service (NCS) Graduates profiled in new BBC social integration series: Crossing Divides

Two local Rotherham Teenagers, Casey and Waj, have been profiled in the BBC Crossing Divides Series, which looks at the ways in which people connect across the fractures that divide societies.

Casey and Waj, both from Rotherham, live in different parts of the town: Casey in the predominantly white area and Waj in the more diverse community. They were handpicked by the BBC to showcase how they overcame certain social divides in the area to become firm friends.

Casey, 17 said: “Looking back to before I did NCS and met Waj, it was quite incredible how segregated I was from people different to me – without ever really realising it! I didn’t feel any prejudice towards people different to me, but I also didn’t know anything about their faith or culture, as I’d just never been given the opportunity to learn more about it.”

Last summer both participated in National Citizen Service (NCS), a national youth programme which brings together 16-17 year olds in small groups which reflect the social mix of the community they live in.

NCS is delivered in Yorkshire and Humber by a number of professional football clubs through EFL Trust because they have an understanding of the makeup of the areas they serve: in this case, Rotherham United Community Sports Trust. To date 2,248 have participated in NCS in Rotherham since 2013. Casey and Waj’s experience included outdoor team-building exercises in Castleton, a residential at Sheffield University for them to learn ‘life skills’, and a community-based social action project.

Waj, 17 said: “I was nervous on the first day of NCS due to seeing plenty of people all very different to me. I was anxious of how well we could all get along and what perceptions they might already have of me. However, I was completely wrong, the group came together quickly and we all got on really well. The whole experience fed my confidence to be more ambitious with my aims and with myself; meeting some wonderful people like Casey definitely made me glad I took the opportunity to take part in NCS that summer.

Carole Foster at Rotherham United Community Sports Trust said: “The programme is a great opportunity to show the positive outcomes of NCS and how it brings together communities creating cohesion and uniting them through common interests and goals.”

The BBC interviewed the two girls about their differences growing up and filmed the reunion of the entire 2017 summer group at Jump Inc Trampoline Park. Both Casey and Waj spoke honestly in the piece about their different upbringings and their limited interaction with people from other backgrounds – but by coming together with a shared endeavour they developed a much greater understanding and respect to those different to them.

You can watch the video here:

NCS Grads get their voices heard at Commonwealth Forum alongside Prince Harry

Four teenagers from Yorkshire and Humber have had their voices heard at the Commonwealth Youth Forum this week in London.

Leonie Hudson (Barnsley), Libby Smith (Doncaster), Emma Thompson (Rotherham) and Benjamin Larsen (Hull) have been invited to this week’s Commonwealth Youth Forum to represent the National Citizen Service. All four are graduates from the NCS programme which they took part in with their local football club through EFL Trust.

The Commonwealth Youth Forum provides an opportunity for the young people of the Commonwealth to build cross-cultural connections and networks, debate the challenges facing its young people, and agree youth-lead initiatives to influence decision makers and ensure young people have a voice in its future.

Prince Harry was a guest at this year’s forum after being announced as the Commonwealth Youth Ambassador and said: “Young people are the answers for the challenges we face”.

The young people will build skills and network, discuss issues, and make recommendations to decision-makers at the highest levels of government.

Benjamin from Hull said “This weekend has been surreal. Meeting all these amazing people from around the world was amazing. NCS has provided me with an opportunity that few are fortunate to receive. The weekend has provided me a chance to test the waters of taking on the role of a leader and I believe it to be a valuable stepping point to more similarly amazing opportunities”.

Tony Buck, Youth Engagement Officer at EFL Trust “This a great opportunity for our NCS grads to be the voice of the youth. They will be discussing global issues with influential people and inputting into the future plans which is not something a young person can often say. NCS grads are continuously proving the stereotype of young people is wrong”

NCS is a government backed programme to help build a more cohesive, mobile and engaged society. NCS is a platform to bring young people together from different backgrounds for a unique shared experience, to help them become better individuals, and give them a voice in today’s world.

To find out more about NCS click here

USW Foundation Degree in Community Football Coaching & Development nominated for national award

Students on the course are based at 32 football club learning hubs across the UK, including Southampton FC, Wigan Athletic FC, Derby County FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC.

The degree was designed in conjunction with the English Football League Trust to identify the type of skills and qualities that are required to work within professional football clubs community departments or national governing bodies in areas such as social inclusion, community coaching and football development.

The course is delivered through blended learning, combining traditional face-to-face teaching with online delivery. Students only attend the University in person for short residential periods (six days a year), spending most of their time learning on the job at their professional football club. This unique delivery framework combines the benefits of a full-time HE degree programme with those of a real-world working environment and integrates the vocational qualifications necessary for employment into the curriculum.

Rob Griffiths, Academic Subject Manager for Football Development and Coaching, said: “We are really pleased that the degree has been shortlisted for a national award. It is a unique degree and one that was designed to enable students to remain based with their football clubs for the majority of the time.

“The production of immersive digital content in a purpose-built recording studio using the full-size indoor football pitch with integrated cameras at the USW Sport Park is crucial to ensure that we are providing students with interactive and immersive content throughout their two years on the course.”

The winners will be announced at the THELMA Awards ceremony on Thursday 21 June.

To find out more about the USW Foundation Degree in Community Football Coaching and Development click here.

Derby County named 2018 Checkatrade Community Club of the Year

Derby County were named the 2018 Checkatrade Community Club of the Year at yesterday night’s EFL Awards ceremony in London.

Derby County Community Trust invested £1.7 million into their community in 2017, reaching over 17,000 participants on projects ranging from teaching young children about healthy eating to helping reduce the risk of falling into the older generation.

Their showcase international project ‘Rams in Kenya’ aimed to aid education, development and sustainability for the 100s of children at St Trizah, Ungana and Jubilee school in Nakuru, Kenya.

Take a look at their showcase video below:

Paul Newman, Community Manager at Derby County Community Trust said: “We’re absolutely bowled over to win this award. I’ve been at the Club sixteen years now, going from a bag of balls to setting up projects in Africa.

“To be recognised for the work we do, as we have staff who are all very passionate in what they do, is an amazing thing.

“It’s wonderful to be here tonight and although it’s a bit of a cliché there are fantastic projects ran across the country by other community trusts, so it’s an honour to win the award.”

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ian Tuttle/BPI/REX/Shutterstock (9629885df)
(L to R) John Wood, Head of Sales at Checkatrade, Paul Newman, Communities manager at Derby County and Don Goodman after Derby County win the Checkatrade Community club of the year award.
EFL Awards 2018, Hilton on Park Lane Hotel, London, UK – 15 Apr 2018

Derby County Community Trust are also celebrating ten years as a charity this year. Find out more here:

World Health Day: Using the power of sport to improve health and well-being

Today (7th April 2018) is World Health Day. A day to raise global awareness and local conversations about ways to achieve health for all.

We, alongside our 72 EFL Club Community Trusts, use the power of sport to improve health and well-being in local communities around the UK.

One trust in particular, Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, run 48 projects on a daily basis that are all linked to health and wellbeing.

In 2017, the Trust had five projects focused on helping improve the health of the borough and as a result the football club’s official charity engaged with more than 2,500 people in the local area.

This year, Blackburn Rovers Community Trust launched a brand new health programme, EuroFIT (European Fans in Training), for men between the ages of 30-65.

The focus of the 12 week initiative is to increase participants’ physical activity levels and offer guidance on how to lead a healthier life with diet and exercise advice.

The weekly session, which is held at Ewood Park on a Tuesday night, has been led by trained staff from the Trust and Blackburn with Darwen Council.

As part of World Health Day, Blackburn Rovers season ticket holder Peter Graham, who is a regular EuroFIT participant, explained why the programme is perfect for him.

“I have been watching Rovers since 1966 and I found out about EuroFIT through the Community Trust’s Facebook page,” admitted the 59-year-old.

“I have put some weight on over the past few years and as soon as I saw the EuroFIT programme it appealed to me.

“The fact the programme was held at Blackburn Rovers was a huge motivator for me rather than going to the local gym.

“It is a real friendly group that goes to EuroFIT and we all motivate and challenge each other to keep going.

“I have changed my diet after the advice we received and we were also given a pedometer to challenge us to walk more places. I have been that impressed with EuroFIT that I have already recommended it to my friends.”

From the Trust’s point of view, Ilyas Patel leads the EuroFIT programme and he revealed the participants motivate each other every day, not just at the weekly sessions.

He said: “EuroFIT has been a real success and World Health Day presents a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness for this programme and all the other great health programmes we run at Blackburn Rovers Community Trust.

“The participants have all been great and they have all taken to the programme. They have set up their own WhatsApp group to let each other know what exercise they have done and see if they can beat one another.”

YES/NO Challenge: Sheffield Wednesday footballer takes on NCS Grad

Sheffield Wednesday star Liam Palmer became the latest player to take on the ‘YES/NO Challenge’ against NCS Graduate Andrew Moore.

Liam, who plays as right-back for The Owls, is no stranger to the NCS programme having been an NCS Ambassador over the past three years and involved in visiting local schools around Sheffield promoting the programme directed at 16-18 year olds to students.

Liam is a part of a series of footballers from South Yorkshire taking on the YES/NO Challenge, a quick fire Q&A game where neither participant can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, you can watch the latest video below.

Liam said: “I’ve been involved in NCS for a few years and seen first-hand how (young) people can grow in confidence. It’s a crucial stage in people’s development of their mind and it gives them experience to go and try new things and meet new people.”

NCS is a government backed programme established in 2011 to help build a more cohesive, mobile and engaged society. By bringing together young people from different backgrounds for a unique shared experience, NCS helps them to become better individuals, and in turn better citizens.

Over the next 2 months, footballers from the EFL will be going toe-to-toe with NCS Graduates to take on the YES/NO Challenge and find out more NCS.

There are places still available with Sheffield Wednesday’s Community Programme. Click here to find out more and see how to get £15 off NCS.

Network Rail

The EFL Trust and Network Rail teamed up to tackle railway trespass

EFL clubs helped to reduce the numbers of young people injured or killed after trespassing on the railway through a series of sports and educational activities to divert young people away from the dangers of playing on the tracks.

The partnership between EFL Trust and Network Rail saw 10 clubs work with Network Rail’s community safety managers to boost awareness of railway safety.

The initiative was a development of Network Rail’s Rail Life programme, which has successfully worked with schools and community groups to deliver safety messages in fun and engaging ways.

Tragically between 2010-2015, 164 people lost their lives after going onto the tracks. Of these, 70% were struck by trains with 18% suffering electrocution by coming into contact with the power supply which can be as much as 25,000 volts. The peak ages for trespass fatalities are late teens and earlier twenties, with around one in five deaths in this age group.

Mike Evans Director of Operations at EFL Trust, commented, “Football clubs are at the heart of their communities in an emotional as well as physical sense. As such they have an incredible ability to reach people, where others may struggle. Our partnership with Network Rails shows how football can use this ability to talk to young people about a serious issue and make a positive difference to people’s lives.”

The partnership saw each club identify a player ambassador, who took on an active role in the project by attending sessions and acting as a role model. EFL Trust and Network Rail also ran small sided boys and girls football competitions with teams from each club in a national final.

The clubs involved were:

Brighton & Hove Albion
Bristol City
Bristol Rovers
Derby County

Leeds United
Nottingham Forest
Notts County
Shrewsbury Town

The project won two Network Rail Partnership Awards in two categories – ‘Community Engagement’ and ‘Safety’.