Teens on NCS revamp garden at local hospital

Young people from Hull aged 15 to 17 have been rolling up their sleeves at an East Yorkshire hospital to help improve the surroundings for patients, staff and visitors alike. Read more

Sheffield Teens make difference on NCS

A group of teens from Sheffield have made a huge difference to their community by renovating a local community centre whilst on NCS with Sheffield United Community Foundation.

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It was an afternoon to remember for a group of Wigan Youngsters at Standish High School on Thursday as Latic’s first team stars Antonee Robinson and Callum Connolly made a surprise visit to the Community Trust’s summer soccer school.

The pair, who joined Wigan Athletic on season-long-loan deals from Everton earlier this month, helped to improve the football skills of over 60 youngsters on what was an unforgettable day for some of the club’s junior supporters.

For Callum, who scored for Latics in last weekend’s game against Aston Villa and was a member of England’s Under 20′ World Cup winning squad, it was his second community appearance for the club having visited Orrell Holgate Primary School with Will Grigg two seasons ago, while Antonee was making his first in Latics colours.

Speaking at the event, USA international Antonee, said: “It was a real good laugh and the kids were so enthusiastic to meet us. We had lots of fun and it was amazing to be able to take some time out of our day to make their day.

He added: “I’ve had a fantastic welcome from the Wigan supporters since I’ve joined the club, and to meet so many young fans at the soccer school was really good.”

EFL Clubs across the country have been running soccer schools and sports camps throughout the summer, take place in a friendly environment, ideal for boys and girls aged 6-14 years old to develop their skills and make new friends

To book a place on any of the Community Trust’s soccer schools or dance camps, please complete the online booking system by clicking here.

“Being involved at Swindon Town Football in the Community has been pivotal in my recovery from mental health problems.”

Injury – one of the most difficult things a professional footballer is likely to endure in their career and anxiety can arise from concerns that the injury heralds the decline or even the end of a life-long dream.

A career ending challenge is all that it takes.

Stephen Holmes, Lead Coach at Swindon Town Football in the Community had to suffer that very heartache.

In 1987, as a teenager from London, Stephen had achieved his life-long dream after signing a two-year contract at Blackburn Rovers.

He played in the club’s youth and reserve team before moving on to Enfield, Marlow and Whitney Town.

In 1994, at the age of 24, an event that lasted just a few seconds on a football pitch, changed his life.

A badly mistimed two footed tackle that broke Stephen’s leg put an end to his promising football career.

He said: “To put it into words, it was pure devastation.

“For a year and a half I tried but there was no way back.

“My mind was still sharp, but physically I just couldn’t keep up.”

Unable to play the sport that was undeniably his life, he became mentally ill and was later diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1999.

He added: “I was very depressed and admitted to a psychiatric hospital twice.

“I think, I believe and I know what happened to me as a player had a detrimental impact on my mental health.”

When Stephen started helping out at Swindon Town Football in the Community, his life took a turn for the better.

“It was a pivotal point in my life when Clive Maguire and Jon Holloway employed me as a volunteer coach at Swindon Town Football in the Community.

“They employed me in 1997 when I was very unwell and the fact they did that despite what I was going through reduces any stigma or discrimination.

“A lot of people if they didn’t understand mental health would run away from it or brush it under the carpet but Clive and Jon were very empathetic towards my situation.”

In 2001, Stephen made a full recovery and in 2016 became a Lead Coach on Swindon Town Football in the Community’s Mental Health programme.

Last month his hard work and dedication to the programme was recognised as he was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM).

Speaking about his BEM, Stephen said: “I’m very humble and grateful to receive the award. I have no idea who nominated me but I want to thank them so much for believing in me.

“It’s incredibly fulfilling to help others and being a part of something special and unique where there is acceptance and understanding.”

The Mental Health programme which was established in 2016 through funding from Wembley National Stadium Trust (WNST) and EFL Trust, promotes positivity and well-being for participants.

Clive Maguire, Senior Football Development Officer at STFITC said: “The Mental Health sessions have enabled people to have a sense of belonging which has also created an infrastructure of support and friendships amongst players.

“We started with 4 participants back in 2016 and now currently have 43 participants on the register.

“Stephen has been pivotal to the success of the initiative thus far.

“He is not only the Coach but the support and compassion he offers the individual participants goes way beyond the call of duty.

“He is an absolute inspiration and an amazing example of someone who has overcome huge barriers in his life and gone on to help others who have daily issues and problems.”

In a really exciting move towards better mental health provision and support across the industry, the EFL recently announced Mind (the mental health charity) would be their new charity partner. Together, Mind and the EFL are working to raise awareness of mental health; improve attitudes and approaches to mental health in football and raise funds to deliver life-changing national and local support. A support package for clubs and community trusts will launch later this year. This partnership is going to be a game changer. Find out more at Mind.org.uk/Football or via [email protected]

Inaugral EFL Trust Women’s Walking Football Cup held at St George’s Park

Around 60 women took part in the first ever EFL Trust Women’s Walking Football Cup hosted at St George’s Park, home of England Football Club’s training ground.

Walking football, as the name suggests, is a slow-paced version of the beautiful game aimed specifically at over 50’s and is designed to help the older generation keep an active lifestyle.

The inaugural EFL Trust Women’s Walking Football Cup finals involved six teams of women from across the UK, all representing their local EFL Club.

Lincoln City, Preston North End, Bradford City, Birmingham City and two teams from Crawley Town participated in the tournament that took place on the famous David Beckham pitch.

It was a close contest on the day, with each team playing 7 games of ten minutes in total and the deciding game, going all the way to penalties, as Birmingham City defeated Crawley Town to claim the 2018 Cup.

Lorraine Robinson, a former full-time footballer for Aston Villa Ladies FC and Birmingham City Ladies FC, who was a part of the winning team said:

“I had butterflies in the build up to this just like I did when I played my first match at 15 years old.

“I stopped playing the game ten years ago after a career at Aston Villa and Birmingham City and then came across walking football through one of my friends here today.

“It’s phenomenal really what EFL Trust have done with walking football, it’s given me a new lease of life.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re 2, 22 or 82… there’s football out there for you and you’re only as old as you feel.”

Donna Waldron, who represented Bradford City in the finals, had never played football before being introduced to walking football. She commented:

“My daughter plays football and one of the coaches at her sessions asked me if I wanted to join the mum’s walking football team, so I went down and joined in.

“I’d never played football before this but I really enjoyed it. I love the buzz you get when you score a goal.

“It’s amazing to say that I’m playing for Bradford City Football Club at St George’s Park where England train.”

Rachel Pavlou, National Women’s Football Participation Manager at the FA said:

“We are really pleased at the number of clubs who have provided women’s walking football teams here today in the first ever EFL Trust tournament.

“The FA, EFL Trust, the Premier League and the National League are all working at getting more women around the country playing walking football.

“The exciting thing is that we contacted all of the Clubs before this and a large number have already said that they want to start women’s walking football sessions.

“That means it can only grow from here and hopefully next year we will have even more teams involved in this competition.”

EFL Trust would like to thank the FA for their support in organising and hosting the event as well as helping to provide opportunities to grow Women’s Walking Football across the country.

To find out more information about how you can get involved in Women’s Walking Football contact [email protected]

NCS youngsters transform Castle Hill Hospital garden

Patients and staff from Castle Hill Hospital can now relax at the newly renovated hidden garden thanks to a group of teenagers that have taken part in the National Citizen Service (NCS) programme.

The group from Hull, known as ‘Team 4’, have been spending their time this summer on NCS through local provider Hymers College.

Before picture

NCS is a 3-4 week programme for 15-17 year olds and is an opportunity for teenagers to experience something new, meet new people, learn new skills and give back to their local community.

Delivering a Social Action Project is a key part of the NCS programme and ‘Team 4’ were determined to finish on a high.

The group chose to support Castle Hill hospital because a few members of the group have close connections to the hospital, which added a somewhat personal touch.

Before embarking on their project to redevelop the hidden garden, ‘Team 4’ needed to raise enough money to purchase the resources to transform the garden.

The group ended up raising over £500 through a sponsored walk over Humber Bridge, as well as putting on a pub quiz. The money raised went towards garden plants and paint to rejuvenate the area.

‘Team 4’ who only met 3 weeks ago renovated the garden within a week of raising the funds. They turned it into a space that patients can use to escape and spend their time whilst in hospital. There was great sense of achievement from the group.

Yasmin Chapman, 16, a member of team 4 said:

“We have transformed the garden into a much more enjoyable space for the patients at Castle Hill which will allow them to relax during their treatment.

“As a team we all wanted to give a little something back. We all had a personal connection with Castle Hill in different ways. Personally, Castle Hill has helped both myself and my family greatly.

“NCS has been an amazing opportunity to get involved in and I am really glad that I did it. I would urge any teenager to get involved and try something new during their summer.”

The staff at Castle Hill are amazed at the transformation in such a short period of time.

Alan Parry, Estate Officer at Castle Hill said,

“We at Castle Hill Hospital want to thank Team 4, Hymers College and NCS for the project they have done at our hidden garden.

“It has had an instant impact on our patients, with plenty of compliments about how good the area now looks. This would not have been possible without the support and help from Team 4.”

This isn’t the end of the partnership between Castle Hill Hospital and NCS, as there are plans to improve their sensory garden in the near future.

Thousands of teenagers from Yorkshire and Humber will be taking part in NCS this Summer through EFL Trust and will be having a positive impact on their local community. For further information about NCS visit www.ncsyes.co.uk.

LUFC Foundation’s ‘Every Player Counts’ project wins Community Project of the Year

The Leeds United Foundation won the Community Project of the Year award at the FA Grassroot Football Awards last month.

The awards ceremony took place at Elland Road in the Norman Hunter Suite with the charity’s Disability Programme ‘Every Player Counts’ picking up one of 19 awards up for grabs on the night.

The Every Player Counts programme supports the EFL Trust’s aim of increasing sports participation for all and has so far involved over 5000 people.

The landmark project was made possible thanks to a £1.1m donation from the Wembley National Stadium Trust (WNST). The funding represented WNST’s largest single donation to date and its first England-wide grants programme.

The programme covers a wide range of disabilities with the simple aim of getting more people involved in sport. 25 EFL clubs run Every Player Counts programmes that are tailored to the specific needs of their local community.

The 25 EFL Club Community Organisations deliver activity covering a wide range of disability programmes including wheelchair football, football for visual impairment, learning difficulties, amputees and autism, giving many disabled people access to football for the first time.

Those that work on the disability provision at Leeds United Foundation do brilliant work every day throughout the Leeds community with hundreds of people as part of their wider programme of disability sport activities; whether it’s in a Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre where they support PE sessions, or a local adult service where they work with those suffering from mental health issues.

The main aim of the event, named the West Riding FA Awards, is to recognise and reward how grassroots leagues, clubs, volunteers and community projects play their part in making the nations favourite game happen week in and week out, up and down the country.

Massive congratulations to all involved at the Club’s official charity for clearly showing how hard you work in breaking down barriers within the local community, making sure to have a positive impact on lives through the art of football.

From the classroom to Preston North End’s Academy set-up

A Preston North End student has risen through the ranks to gain a work experience role at the Academy after just three years studying at the football club.

Ollie Birkett, a former FE student and now HE student at North End has put the opportunities studying at a football club offers into good use, and is now attaining work experience at the Academy as he looks to make his mark in football coaching.

“It’s given me a great idea of what it’s like to be a coach,” said Ollie who took a short break from coaching with the pre-academy and development centres to talk about his experiences.

“It’s helped me understand the qualifications I need to be a good coach and what I need in terms of the qualities of a coach and the equipment you need. It’s given me a great idea of what it’s like to be a coach at academy level as well giving me great enjoyment and a great experience.”

Ollie started in his quest to be a football coach as a Level Three student at Preston North End in Sport and Exercise. Here, Ollie joined the two-year long programme combining classroom based modules with practical based experience, which included representing North End in regional and national tournaments.

From there, Ollie continued his education with PNE by studying a Foundation Degree in Football Coaching in conjunction with the University of South Wales and EFL Trust, and is now gaining hands on experience by working with the Academy.

He continued: “With the foundation degree, I came on to the programme not really knowing what I wanted to do. I had a passion for sport and a passion for football so it was a good reason why I joined the course.

“Joining the course has given me plenty of opportunities to see what jobs are out there in sport and within football in particular.

“I don’t think you’d get this opportunity studying at other colleges – you wouldn’t get behind the scenes access in a professional football club and I doubt you would get the opportunity to work with an academy. I think there is plenty more opportunities within the football industry through the education at Preston North End compared to other colleges.”

Ollie has been supported and observed throughout his time working at the Academy by the likes of Lead Foundation Phase Coach, Paul Gray who has been impressed with what he has seen from Ollie so far.

“Ollie has done really well since being with us” said Paul “We are looking for people to come into the Academy who are going to work hard, be committed to what we are trying to do here and people that are willing to learn and get better and Ollie has shown those qualities since he’s come in.

“He’s hard working and not one that will shy away from doing a bit extra when it is needed which is really important for us. I think since he has been with us, his communication skills have really come on and really improved. He is good when he talks to the parents and has good rapport when he coaches our youngest players so we have players from as young as five, six and seven and he really gets down to their level and shows he can work with them ages.

“Hopefully with our guidance and our help, he will get his coaching badges and he will get opportunities to then possibly move up and coach one of the academy age groups and then who knows, he could end up with a full-time position. But he’s going to have to keep working hard, keep listening, learning and get better all of the time.”

Whilst Paul has been a figure who has been able to observe Ollie’s progress during his time at the Academy, somebody who has been with Ollie during his days in the Education Programme is Recruitment and HE Development Manager and former player, Graeme Atkinson.

As well as a senior figure in the Education Programme at North End, Graeme has also been an Academy Coach at PNE for a number of years which has helped Ollie get this opportunity in the first place.

“There’s no reason that when we have got people like Ollie – students who are under our noses and doing really well why we couldn’t utilise what we have got at our disposal,” added Graeme. “We have got other students doing various bits and bobs with other departments and that is testament to the club and the resources and also how they embrace the students that we have on our courses to get involved and to hopefully potentially become our next employees.

“This experience could be massive for him. Ultimately, it’s going to be down to him and the effort that he puts in but for his first year he has done magnificently well and getting some very good plaudits from full-time staff.

“Anybody that is on our programme is obviously getting first dibs and we are progressing those opportunities to reality and hopefully the word comes about that we are doing positive things for students in the community and that going to mainstream colleges is one thing, but we are providing a good level of work experience alongside the courses that we are delivering as an alternative.”

He concluded: “I would fully recommend it to somebody who was unsure with what they want to do and were passionate about sport and passionate about football. I would 100% recommend the education programme because it gives you plenty of opportunities and great experiences. Even if you decide that you don’t want to go into football, you still have a great two years with great experiences – It’s a fantastic course.”

Places are still available to those aged 16 and above to join the programme with a Level Two or Level Three Diploma in Sport and Exercise, so if you have a passion for sport, uncertain on the next part of your education but interested in following in Ollie’s footsteps, contact the Education team at Preston North End now by calling 01772 693309 or email [email protected] for an informal chat with regards to the course, and see if it’s right for you.