A day our NCS Graduates will never forget…

11 NCS Graduates spent the day rubbing shoulders with England’s First Team footballers at the home of English Football, St George’s Park.  

A day that any football fan would dream of was possible thanks to an invite from David Sheepshanks, NCS Patron and Chairman of the St George’s Park National Football Centre.

The invite was for teens that have completed NCS and a reward for their volunteering which is over 40,000 hours making a positive difference in their local community.

The highlight of the day was watching the England team train ahead of their Nations League semi-finals against Netherlands.

An autograph and photo session followed, and grads took time to chat with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Harry Maguire and Manager, Gareth Southgate.

Charlotte Dunn, who did NCS in 2016 with Sheffield Wednesday said: “It was such a great and a fantastic opportunity – I loved every minute of it!”

Aiden Walker, a graduate of Barnsley said: “It was a brilliant day from having a guided tour to meeting the England players. A fantastic opportunity that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

David Sheepshanks took the group on a behind the scenes of the Football Centre that facilitates 27 England teams. As well, Grads were put through their paces with a training session put on by a coach at St. George’s Park.

The 11 teens involved completed NCS with EFL Trust through their local football Club or youth organisation. After completing the initial programme, participants became NCS graduates and have access to a wide range of opportunities and support to continue making a mark in their communities.

Click here see how this group supported a homeless charity in Hull.

Brewers raise Ramadan awareness at the Pirelli Stadium

A PARTNERSHIP between Burton Albion and the Makki Masjid Trust was celebrated at the Pirelli Stadium last week following recent months of working closely together.The evening, which featured a culmination of workshops and activities at the home of the Brewers, was lead by staff from Burton Albion Community Trust and Makki Masjid Trust. The Makki Masjid Trust aims to promote any charitable purpose for the benefit of persons from ethnic minorities in Burton on Trent and surrounding areas. In particular by the relief of poverty, promotion of health, provision and advancement of education and the provision of facilities for recreation.

The night saw the first ever official Iftar (break of the fast) that the Pirelli Stadium has hosted, as well as a Ramadan Tournament which over 65 players participated in.

John Widdowson, Community Operations Manager, said: “The meal Saturday had a real community feel about it and was supported by families from Makki Masjid Trust, Crescent Learning Centre, Staffordshire Police, Staffordshire FA and Burton Albion.

“A special thanks must also go to the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) and Premier League Charitable Fund whose support has helped us bring communities together through the power of sport.”

For any more information please get in touch with BACT on 01283 246207 or by email [email protected] 

EFL Kids Cup finals round-up

Report: 2019 EFL Kids Cup League Two Grand Final

Oldham Athletic, represented by South Failsworth, won this year’s EFL Kids Cup League Two Grand Final following a fantastic game at Wembley Stadium.

Two first-half goals from the Latics, one from Stephen Maylett and the other from Finlay Boardman, saw them beat Broadclyst Community Primary, who were representing Exeter City, under the iconic arch.

Speaking after the game, teacher and coach Lee Lawton was naturally extremely proud, saying: “I’m so proud of the lads, they’re a credit to themselves and their school. There’s some unbelievable talent in the team, as we saw out there.

“There’s no better place to do it than Wembley, and this will live with them forever. It’s a fantastic competition with a prize of playing on the Wembley pitch, and that’s something that’s hard to put into words. 

“It’s been fantastic and Wembley has certainly treated us well. We can’t thank the EFL enough.”

Goalkeeper Zack Tobin added: “It felt amazing, the best feeling ever. Without the EFL we wouldn’t be here, it’s great to play at Wembley and we want to do it again next year! It was a team effort and it’s a dream come true to win.”

Report: 2019 EFL Kids Cup League One Grand Final

Wycombe Wanderers, represented by The Gerrards Cross C.E. School, won this year’s EFL Kids Cup League One Grand Final following a tight affair at Wembley Stadium.

Both sides battled hard throughout the first period of the game, but neither side could make the breakthrough, the Chairboys came the closest to opening the scoring through Calum Daley, but a fantastic save from Walsall’s William Tomlinson kept the game level.

Into the second-half and with the game looking like it was heading to the lottery of a penalty shootout, up stepped Wycombe captain Alex Thomas to fire his side into the lead, a direct free-kick from 20-yards finding the top corner of the Wallsall goal.

Captain and match-winner Alex Thomas said: “It was such a surreal moment for me, scoring the winning goal at Wembley really doesn’t get much better than that, I am speechless and it made it better for me that I did it with all my friends.

“It is such a crazy experience, I have been to watch some England games here with my dad and never expected to play here, we have been a really successful team over the years, but this will be the last time we play together and we are so happy to have won the game.”

Report: 2019 EFL Kids Cup Championship Grand Final

Blackburn Rovers, represented by Whitefield Primary School, won this year’s EFL Kids Cup Championship Final following an incredibly tight affair against Brentford FC at Wembley Stadium.

Both sides battled hard for the win in the Championship Kids Cup Final, and the game was just seconds away from penalties before Rovers captain Daniel Armer scored a last-gasp winner.

Speaking after the game, teacher and coach Simon Keogh said: “It was one of the most stressful 15 minutes of my life, but how incredible. I don’t think it’ll really hit them that they’ve done this at Wembley until we’re on our way home. 
“I’ve never seen a goalkeeping performance like that from the Brentford goalkeeper at such a young age. The Kids Cup is just incredible for opportunities like this. Today has been one of the best day’s of my life, let alone the kids. They’ve had an amazing day.”
Captain and match-winner Daniel Armer added: “I remember getting past a couple of players and I just didn’t know what to think, when we scored we all just went mad. It was unreal to play on the pitch at Wembley when you think of some of the players that have played here. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to do this.”

Trevor: “I’ve lost 6 stone in 2 years with Stevenage FC Foundation and it’s physically and mentally changed my life.”

Two years ago, Trevor Prowse, who was overweight and suffered from severe anxiety, never thought he would be able to do everyday activities like playing with his grandchild or talking to a stranger on the phone.

It wasn’t until he was referred by his GP to meet Healthy Lifestyles Officer Hannah Marsh at Stevenage FC Foundation, when his life turned around.

Hannah said: “When I first met Trevor he told me our meeting was the first time he had left his house in a week due to his anxiety being that severe and he was very unsure about taking part in any exercise.

“He agreed to try our ‘Introduction to Exercise’ class and despite his apprehensions, he took part, thoroughly enjoyed himself and hasn’t looked back since.”

Stevenage FC Foundation’s Introduction to Exercises classes are designed for people with long-term medical conditions (both physical and mental) and are mainly circuit based.

The sessions also incorporate other activities like Soccercise, Pilates and Boxercise and have a strong element of social support with the group regularly opening up and sharing their experiences and struggles with their health.

In the two years that Trevor has been involved, he has lost a remarkable 6 stone and his blood pressure has dropped, to the point where he no longer has to take medication.

Talking about his experiences, he said: “I started suffering with severe anxiety from my early 20’s, so really suffered for a good 30 years.

“It effects your whole life and makes you so self-conscious, to the point where you can’t even leave the house or do very much.

“Taking that huge step to take part in the sessions at Stevenage FC Foundation was such a life-changing decision for me.

“It’s made a huge difference, I’m doing things now I never dreamed of – last weekend I even went sky diving!

“It’s also the little things that make all the difference. I recently became a Grandad for the first time, and when I was overweight I wouldn’t have been able to do very much.

“But now, I can be active and spend time with him and it means so much.

“Anxiety has been a part of my life for so long – but those simple things are really what make all the difference.”

The 58 year-old credits the sessions for not only helping him physically, but mentally, as he no longer dreads meeting new people and looks forward to classes each week.

 He added: “Stevenage FC Foundation, the course they run and Hannah are all superb and I would recommend it to absolutely anyone.

“There are people there of all ages, all levels of fitness and everybody is there for their own reason – I consider the people in my class as not just friends, but even family now.

“The sessions have allowed me to realise that there are people who will help you if you are struggling, you just have to open up.

“Something may seem daunting at first but once you get over that barrier in yourself and try it, it may just be one of the best things you ever do.”



Foundation of Light wins high praise from DCMS Select Committee

Sunderland AFC’s Foundation of Light has received high praise from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in its report “Changing Lives: the social impact of participation in culture and sport”, which was released today.

The report considered how culture and sport can be used to tackle criminal justice, education and health issues, as well as transform towns and cities across the UK. It reviewed and considered several successful initiatives across the country, of which the Foundation of Light was one.

The Committee, including Chair Damian Collins MP and Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott, visited the city as part of its investigations last year, taking in a tour of the Beacon of Light to see the life changing work that the Foundation carries out.

The report said “We visited the Beacon of Light, a recently-opened sports, health, education and community space run by Sunderland AFC’s Foundation of Light. As well as sports courts, the Beacon’s facilities include a school for 13-16 year olds who are disengage from mainstream education, a health and wellbeing zone to offer health services to visiting families and a business centre to teach employability skills.

“The Beacon of Light estimates that they will generate £73 million worth of social impact over the next twenty years. More broadly, the Foundation of Light delivers 49 different community programmes across South Shields and County Durham, encompassing employment, health, education and sport.

“We were highly impressed with the Foundation of Light and its devoted staff. We saw for ourselves the opportunity for joy and new experiences that it was bringing for children and parents alike.”

Damian Collins MP said “Culture and sport play a major role in how we see our nation. What we’ve focused on in our inquiry is the transformative power of culture and sport, not just to enrich the value of our lives but to address a range of long-standing social problems.

“Social activities like group singing and walking football can improve the mental health and physical health of those who take part. Major sports clubs are using the power of their appeal to change life chances for young people.

“More needs to be done to co-ordinate and invest in community initiatives, share evidence of success and encourage others to emulate the examples of best practice.”

Foundation of Light Chief Executive Lesley Spuhler said, “I am immensely proud of the work that the Foundation of Light does to improve lives across the north east. We have seen the impact that our sport, education, employability and wellbeing programmes can have and the real difference they make to our communities.

“We are thrilled to receive such positive recognition of our work by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. It is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of everyone in the organisation to changing and improving lives.”

The full report is available on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport website.

Active Minds Group proving a prolific hit, as Mansfield FC Football in the Community tackles Mental Health

Mansfield Town Football in the Community are delighted to announce that their proactive approach to tackling Mental Health is continuing to grow, having seen increased numbers attending their ‘Active Minds’ sessions.

Taking place every Friday at the One Call Stadium, the ‘Active Minds’ sessions tackle Mental Health issues such as loneliness, low self-esteem & self-confidence, PTSD and anxiety – along with improving the lives of those living with Dementia.

Since the groups launch in March, Football in the Community have seen a vast increase in the number of people attending the group, with participants enjoying a different activity each week, designed to encourage team work and improve confidence through the power of sport and play.

Led by Football in the Community coaches, activities have included a number of outdoor sports games, music therapy, board game sessions, interactive quizzes and indoor fitness classes – activities which have proved a real hit with participants, old and new.

“My husband is a different person when he comes here, and I know that many of the other wives have seen the same transformation” – Carol Wright, wife on long-term participant Peter, who lives with Dementia.

“It’s such a simple set-up and to get as much out of it as they do is unbelievable. It’s the friendship that they get out of it, they come here and can talk for hours, whilst they can be at home and not speak for hours, like you’ve fallen out, you haven’t that’s just Dementia.”

“He has a different expression on a Friday morning; he knows he’s coming here and he really lights up – it’s worked wonders for his wellbeing, knowing every week he’s coming here gives him a focus.

“The main things I get out of these sessions is seeing that he is happy, it’s different to the rest of the week. When you first get these sort of diagnoses you think that you’re excluded from the rest of the world and that nobody cares, there’s a stigma to it – but here [at Active Minds] that simply doesn’t exist.” 

Mark Hemingray, Head of Community, said: “Active Minds has been a really successful project for us so far, the fact that we can split in into two strands [Chat – Focussing more on Dementia & those unable to participate in physical activities, and Sport – focussing on outdoor sport for younger males] allows us to make an impact across the community.

“Playing games and doing something competitive releases endorphins into the brain and body and it’s been scientifically proven that that has a real positive effect on those living with Dementia, and those living with any form of Mental illness – which is why we design our sessions the way we do.”

Participant Kurt Eggington said “It’s great to have that camaraderie between the group, although we may not be in the same situation across the board we all have our own issues which we are trying to deal with.

“The important thing about basing the group around football and sport is that it’s a common denominator – everybody that comes here for example has an affiliation to the Football Club – it’s always a central point, a focal point.

“Without taking that first step [in joining the activity] you never know if it’s going to be of assistance to you, you may just find if it makes life that little bit easier for you and it does give you something to look forward to, as it does me”

Active Minds sessions take place every Friday at the One Call Stadium and are FREE to attend. ‘Active Minds: Chat’ is suitable for anyone living with dementia or may be living with mental health problems, unable to participate in physical activity – ‘Active Minds: Sport’ is for males aged 18+ battling any form of mental health issue and contains more physical sporting activities – to find out more about the sessions or what may be of benefit to you or a friend, you can contact Football in the Community in confidence on 01623 656 920 or email [email protected] with the subject title ‘Active Minds’.

EFL Clubs to help tackle increasing numbers of railway risk takers

The EFL Trust has today launched a new partnership with Network Rail and the British Transport Police (BTP) to help tackle the increasing number of people risking their lives on the railway.

EFL Clubs will be part of the project that will help to educate and raise awareness of the dangers of the railway network to young people.

New figures released today reveal over 250 incidents a week have been recorded by people taking risks on the railway – taking short-cuts, capturing photos and even ‘train surfing’ – sometimes with tragic consequences. Young people (under 18s) make up one of the largest categories, responsible for a third of all cases.

All 72 EFL Clubs will be involved in the campaign with activity ranging from social media posts to player messages.  Clubs who are within the trespass incident hot spot will run workshops in their local communities.

Allan Spence, head of passenger & public safety at Network Rail, said: “Children, and adults alike, continue to risk their lives by stepping out onto the track and it has to stop. Every day we see almost 40 incidents and each one could be a potential catastrophe leading to life-changing injuries or even death.”

The ‘You vs. Train’ campaign launched last year by the rail industry and British Transport Police saw incidents involving children reduce by 12%, but this vulnerable group continue to be at high risk. Responding to the continued problem, the industry’s railway trespass group has this year launched a new phase of the You vs. Train campaign, forming partnerships with the EFL Trust & StreetGames to drive the rail safety message directly to this hard-to-reach group.

At the heart of the issue is a lack of understanding and awareness of the risks. Research undertaken amongst teenagers last year found that, while most are aware that the railway is a dangerous place, most of them don’t realise quite how dangerous it is or the specific dangers they face when they step on the track.

Mike Evans, Director of Operations at The EFL Trust, said: “Bringing about positive change in the community is at the very core of The EFL Trust’s values. Football can be an enormous force for good and have a profoundly positive impact on communities – so we are looking forward to helping tackle this issue in those areas where children and young people are particularly vulnerable.”

A new film highlighting the hidden dangers of the railway has been launched across social media alongside new content telling the story of Tom – a young boy who suffered life-changing injuries in 2014 when he was electrocuted by the overhead power cables – and his family, to illustrate the life-changing impact that the accident has had on them.

To watch the new video and find out how to keep young people safe on the railway visit: www.YouVsTrain.co.uk.