Alfie Bakes: from a young boy attending football camps to an employee at Rotherham United Community Trust.

From a 10 year old aspiring footballer on Rotherham United Community Trust’s Future Stars programme to a student and employee at the Trust.

Alfie Bakes is currently a 2nd Year Foundation Degree student at Rotherham United Community Trust , an affiliation with the Trust that started when he was just 10 years old.

A keen footballer, Alfie joined the Trust’s ‘Future Stars’ Football Development Programme for 6 years which led him on to completing his GCSE’s and signing up to the full-time education and football programme at Rotherham United.

Alfie studied the BTEC Extended Diploma in Sports Coaching and Development for 2 years excelling in both education and football. His academic success saw him achieve DMM (Distinction, Merit, Merit) and his football ability and leadership skills saw him captaining the Shadow Academy squad. Whilst on the  course, Alfie captained the squad on tour in Barcelona as well as accumulating over 5o hours of work experience hours to aid his career path off the pitch.

He is studying the ‘Sports Coaching and Development’ degree in Partnership with the University of South Wales where he continues to relish in the opportunities Rotherham United Community Trust provide him both on and off the pitch.

The University of South Wales allows students to gain practical experience in their desired nature of work, whilst allowing for a blended learning approach where students have both face-to face and online learning. The courses which are hosted at your local football club has a huge emphasis on gaining real world learning through placements with students only having to attend the University for short residential periods.

Alfie said: “I have loved every minute of my time at Rotherham United, firstly on the BTEC and now in Higher Education. The staff have been great with me, providing lots of opportunities in education and football. I have become a very confident person, and this is all down to the staff at Rotherham United. The learning environment and facilities could not have been any better. From my experience this is something that I would recommend to anyone.” 

Alfie is highly thought of at Rotherham United both on his academic pathway as a student and as a member of staff.

Education Manager James Mahoney expressed: “Alfie has been a pleasure to teach and mentor throughout his time on our Education courses. He is a hard-working, determined individual who I am sure will go on to have a very successful career. Alfie deserves all the success due to his enthusiasm for sport and education. It has been fantastic to see Alfie’ progress from a young boy attending our football camps to now been an employee at Rotherham United Community Trust.”

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Foundation Degree with Huddersfield Town Foundation has reignited Shay’s love for coaching.

Prior to enrolling onto the Foundation Degree in Community Football Coaching and Development with Huddersfield Town Foundation, Shay was reluctant to return to higher education due to previous negative experiences in a ‘mainstream’ university.

Although initially reluctant, the leap of faith is exactly what Shay needed.

Run in partnership with the University of South Wales, the degree allows students to gain practical experience in their desired nature of work, whilst allowing for a blended learning approach where students have both face-to face and online learning. The courses which are hosted at your local football club have a huge emphasis on gaining real world learning through work experience.

The ability to learn from home whilst developing a one-to-one relationship with the tutor was something that really has benefited Shay, another aspect of the University of South Wales partnership that he had previously struggled with at another university.

He explained: “Travel was a real issue on my previous course, however relocating to Huddersfield and living within 10 Minutes of the Sports Hub is beneficial. It used to take me upwards of 2 hours to travel to my previous university.

Moving onto a course where there are a smaller number of students in my cohort has been the most beneficial aspect of this course as it gives each student enough time to build a rapport with their mentor and this makes the environment much more comfortable.”

Additionally, the degree course has an emphasis on gaining real-world experience through the Club Community Organisations themselves.

Shay has had the opportunity to develop and learn highly beneficial skills for when he begins searching for his future career after graduating; this often means students are put into a variety of situations and scenarios with people from all walks of life.

He said: “Working with the Foundation we get the chance to coach different kinds of people whether that be working with adults with mental health struggles, or children who struggle with school. This course is really centred around work-based learning, getting out there and getting as much experience as you can.”

For Shay, coaching was always something he had loved, and had pursued but he had lost his spark after leaving his previous course.

He conveyed: The one major benefit with this degree is the volunteering and coaching hours you put in. This has given me a major confidence boost after falling out of love with coaching. This course has given me opportunities around football that I have gladly taken. Without the support of those at the Huddersfield Town Foundation, particularly our mentor Adam, I would not be achieving what I have done already.

When I first started my degree with the Foundation, I was relatively new to coaching and had only just recently achieved my Level 1 in coaching football, I was nervous at the idea of taking sessions. Now I enjoy coaching sessions and love to be involved in all parts of the team whether it is coaching on the pitch or management during the game. This is something that I would never of thought I’d be ready for before I started my degree at the Foundation.”

Having re-found his love and passion for coaching the game, Shay now acts as head coach for the Kirklees College Football Programme, something that has only left Shay with positive experiences and future goals.

He said: “Taking on this team has given me experience in a different kind of environment, coaching at this age group and in this setting is something I want to do in the future.”

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EFL in the Community honoured with Silver Status via MoD Award 

EFL in the Community has been honoured with a prestigious award for its support to the Armed Forces community. 

The EFL’s charitable arm has achieved the Ministry of Defence Silver Award under the Employer Recognition Scheme, thanks to its ongoing support and work with veterans and the wider armed forces community. 

In 2023, the EFL and EFL in the Community signed the Armed Forces Covenant, pledging to support, and recognise the value, of serving personnel, reservists, veterans and military families. 

The network of EFL Club Community Organisations carry out impactful work with the armed forces community throughout England and Wales. 

Debbie Cook, EFL’s Director of Community said: “We are proud to be recognised as an advocate of our Armed Forces community 

“People who serve or have served in the armed forces and their families have to give up a great deal.  

“By using football to bring people together for the greater good, we will create and an environment where the armed forces community are treated fairly and equally, and make sure they are not disadvantaged because of their service.” 

EFL in the Community Head of Participation and Community Engagement, Dominik Stingas-Paczko was invited to the Trooping The Colour King’s Birthday Parade, thanks to the North West Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association and defence Relationship Management. 

He was joined by Stuart Glover (Chief Executive Officer at Morecambe FC Community Sports who too have been awarded the Silver award) and Mark Ward (Miliary Cross recipient and Stockport County Community Trust’s Armed Forces Liaison Officer). Both organisations carry outstanding work with veterans and are also Armed Forces Covenant signatories. 

Fleetwood Town Community Trust’s amputee veteran completes incredible feat

Fleetwood Town Community Trust’s Community Engagement Manager – and former army sergeant – has carried out an incredible fundraising challenge.

After hearing a local woman’s battle with terminal cancer, Rick Clement was inspired, and decided to task himself to complete the Great North Swim in aid of her and her family.

Serving in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan as a soldier for 14 years with the Duke of Lancaster Regiment before joining the EFL Club Community Organisation, Rick suffered life-changing injuries after encountering an improvised explosive device.

As a result, Rick lost both of his legs and suffered severe damage to an arm.

A regular fundraiser for several local causes and armed forces charities, the 44-year-old from Fleetwood was embraced by Sarah Jones at the finish line, after he completed the one mile race in 1 hour and 17 minutes.

“The first half was against the wind with the waves crashing into me as I took a breath, so I had to adapt my strokes to raise my head further above the water line,” said Rick about his challenge in Windermere.

But I kept setting my targets to the group of people in front of me and began to slowly hunt them down. As I hit the halfway marker it felt like I had made good time, and I knew the wind would be behind me on the way back.

“As I swam, I thought about Sarah and knew I couldn’t let her down by failing to finish. As I hit the finish line, I felt proud to have achieved my goal for Sarah and her family.”

Sarah said of Rick who oversees the management of a variety of projects all aimed at positively influencing the lives of local people:

“I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to an extraordinary guy whose strength and determination are truly inspiring.

“Rick’s commitment to raising funds despite facing his own challenges is a testament to the human spirit’s capacity for compassion and resilience. His efforts have not only provided support in my battle against terminal cancer but have also raised awareness about the struggles faced by many in similar situations.

“His selflessness and dedication are a beacon of hope and have made a significant impact on my life, my family, and the lives of others. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your incredible generosity and for showing the world what true courage looks like.”

With an initial target of £500, Rick, from Fleetwood, managed to surpass this and raised over £1,700. The funds will allow Sarah and her family to create some valuable memories.

Blackburn Rovers Community Trust provided Eissa with a sense of belonging

“I feel I belong here, and I belong in Blackburn.”

Emotional and strong words from Eissa as he explained how crucial of a role Blackburn Rovers Community Trust has played in both his and his family’s life.

Ten years ago, Eissa arrived in England from Myanmar and had to claim Asylum, after taking the brave decision to leave his homeland due to being dangerous for him and his family.

Eissa and his family were alone in new surroundings, with little to no support, living in the Blackburn with Darwen area.

However, he started to lay the foundations for a new beginning when he attended a DARE session for advice, and he met Blackburn Rovers Community Trust’s Community Inclusion Manager, Ilyas Patel.

Ilyas introduced Eissa to various projects suitable for him at the Community Trust, including the Community Ambassadors programme and Men in Sheds.

 Eissa said: “Blackburn Rovers Community Trust really helped me when I first moved here.”

“I met new people, and I was able to socialise too. My English at the time wasn’t very good at all, but by attending various sessions, my communication skills improved.

“I moved to England from Myanmar, and it wasn’t safe. Initially I wasn’t allowed to work when I first moved to England, so I used to volunteer and help out with the DARE project.

“I volunteered on various programmes, and it helped me stay busy but also support the local community too.

“To this day I still volunteer, and I thoroughly enjoy it.”

Eissa’s journey with Blackburn Rovers continued, and soon enough, once he was allowed to work, he worked as a matchday steward at Ewood Park.

Now a full-time taxi driver, Eissa’s journey has been a difficult one, but he is now settled in the area with his family, and he is enjoying life.

He continued: “I always feel so welcome when I come to Blackburn Rovers. I now have a full-time job too.

“I was a very reserved person, I never spoke to people, but Blackburn Rovers Community Trust has helped me feel so much.

“I was a bit scared to talk but I am not anymore, I feel very confident, and the Men in Sheds group helped me with that as we would do things together. I don’t feel like a stranger from another country, I feel like I belong to Blackburn.”

Eissa volunteers to help Blackburn Rovers Community Trust on a consistent basis.

From Tanzania to Teesside: Hassan’s inspirational journey with Middlesbrough FC Foundation

From Tanzania to Teesside. Not the most obvious route for a someone just short of their teenage years. But that was the route taken at the start of a new chapter in the life of Hassan Mtambo.

He was 12 when he and his family left Zanzibar and made Middlesbrough their home.

It is often said that football is a universal language. It certainly helped Hassan settle and quickly make friends.

It led to his first association with Middlesbrough FC Foundation; the first steps on an inspirational journey.

Seeing a group of young people playing on some land near his Acklam home, he asked if he could join in. He was quickly accepted and introduced to a Foundation session.

That session became an integral part of Hassan’s teenage years. It helped him socially and athletically. He explains; “If I hadn’t started there I probably would have been up to mischief. Growing up, there were two different groups. One would get up to mischief, the other just wanted to play football and be part of a group that enjoyed playing football.

“We were happy, we played football and would go home fed.” It had sown the seed.

Hassan moved on to college and that progression gradually saw him outgrow his participation, but the separation wasn’t a lengthy one.

When his college studies came to an end, Hassan applied for a job with MFC Foundation and was awarded an apprenticeship.

He remembers thinking, “I started here as a kid and now I’m working here. That was a strange feeling, to complete that cycle. It was, wow, I’m now helping people like someone helped me.”

And that, for Hassan, is what it’s about. It’s never been about any financial reward, it’s about helping people and making a difference. He qualified as a PT  during his college years and acknowledges he could earn a higher salary. However his ethos is simple and heartwarming. “If I can make one person happy in my sessions, make life better for them, that’s the reward I need.”

It’s much more than football for him now. His personal and motivational skills, his interaction with others, became clear and he started to work on other programmes. Among them, Football Welcomes, Kitchen Therapy, Match Fit, and PL Primary Stars.

His former mentor and now line manager Paul South recalls: “When he was young, he liked going to the gym. He liked training. I quickly learned that one part of sport he likes is to educate others, to manage them, to be a mentor for them.

“When he first joined the foundation as an apprentice, he thought I would be working with schoolchildren, in schools, helping them. He soon found there was much more to his role, and I think Match Fit (formerly Fit Boro) is probably his favourite.

“I have never had a second thought about asking him to cover sessions on different programmes. Feedback from schools and participants is always encouraging.”

The Football Welcomes programme saw Hassan work with different people, different cultures, different skin colours and different languages. Football again has proved a common language. Participants from 17 different countries act as though they’ve been lifelong friends under his guidance.

His work in schools has helped not only teachers and schoolchildren, but the Foundation as a whole.

So what does the future hold for a man on a mission? “I’m studying to be a nutritionist,” Hassan reveals. “It’s so I can help the people who are struggling with their nutrition. I’m looking to develop something on an app so we can reach a lot more.

“We’re taking our programmes to places they they’ve never been, like the Central Mosque in Middlesbrough. It’s different, it’s a challenge outside your comfort zone. But people have responded in a good way. I’m working in places that are not my culture and with people who have a different background. But you have to learn.

“For me, I’m just doing small things, but sometimes it makes a big difference. Maybe it’s a gift.”

Abdu Abubakar has become a role model to many after his dedication to supporting other refugees and asylum seekers settling in Hull.

Abdu Abubakar, from Hull City, has become a role model for his dedication to supporting other refugees and asylum seekers settling in Hull.

Abdu, a valued member of the Hull City, Tigers Trust team, initially joined as a participant before dedicating over 200 hours to volunteer work, assisting his peers with education and language barriers, as well as supporting staff in community sports sessions. He has been a full-time team member for almost four years now.

Abdu’s journey to Hull from Eritrea as a refugee was marked by challenges, but through resilience and community support, he has flourished. Initially facing language barriers and isolation, Abdu found his footing through programmes like the Kicks International Programme and has since become an integral part of the local community, significantly improving his English proficiency and confidence.

Abdu volunteered extensively, mentoring others and assisting with language barriers in various programmes. His dedication to helping others has been evident throughout his employment with the Trust, particularly during lockdowns, where he supported community members battling loneliness and inactivity.

Abdu’s impact extends beyond his immediate community, as he actively works to increase activity levels in Hull, particularly among young adults and ethnic groups. His efforts have led to thousands of attendances in programmes aimed at promoting physical activity and community engagement.

Abdu’s infectious smile and genuine passion for the Tigers Trust and its programmes make him a standout representative of the organisation’s values. His commitment to personal growth and supporting others has not gone unnoticed. Abdu, has become a role model and a representative of the pathway’s that are possible for refugees and asylum seekers with support from Club Community Organisations.

 

 

Men’s Health Week – Pop Up Health Project Proving a Success

A new pop up stand at Millwall’s The Den is providing free health checks for supporters. 

As part of Men’s Health Week, we wanted to highlight a fantastic initiative that is helping predominantly men. Millwall Community Trust staff and Lions fans took advantage of the Vaxi Taxi / Health and Wellbeing service at the ground prior to EFL Championship games, thanks to a partnership between the Club, the Club Community Organisation, Partnership Southwark and Crisis Rescue Foundation. 

More than 170 people – many of which were male – attended the pop up stand before a game where health and wellbeing experts offered preventative care advice about how to spot signs of heart disease, stroke, cancer and mental health issues. 

The team offered free blood pressure checks, height, and weight measurements along with free, healthy snacks and toiletry goodie bags. 

Sean Daly, Millwall Community Trust’s CEO said: “It was a superb evening where both sets of supporters and staff members were offered the opportunity to get a free health check. 

“Many of the people who were checked, many of which were men, did not know they had high blood pressure or high cholesterol until they were checked out. A lot of referrals were made, so it’s important that we support these initiatives because we have access to around 20,000 fans each game and have great reach into our communities.” 

The partnership will see these pop-up stands appear at every Millwall home game during the 2024/25 season. 

AFC Wimbledon Foundation inspired Rachele to begin her volunteering journey.

14 year old Rachele joined one a PE session facilitated by AFC Wimbledon Foundation when she was in primary school and she has begun volunteering with the Foundation.

The sessions, lead by Football Development Officer Scott Lockwood, are designed to help children enjoy sport and inspire active lifestyles. Since then, Rachele has joined a variety of Foundation programmes, including Football for All, Kicks and our Holiday Courses.

She is now also a regular volunteer for AFC Wimbledon Foundation, supporting the Family Zone on a matchday, where her whole family now attend as season ticket holders.

The provsions that AFC Wimbledon provide for their local community have had such an impact on Rachele, that she got her brother Etore involved where he is going from strength to strength, attending and and playing in every session possible.

She exclaims: “I help out now because of the help they gave me and watching my brother play gives me joy.”

Scott explained “Our sessions have provided an environment where Rachele can be herself and thrive, which has also inspired her to support future generations as a volunteer coach” adding that “we are thrilled that Rachele wants to engage and inspire local children, helping us support and deliver positive change in our community.”

AFC Wimbledon’s Family Zone provides a fun, safe and inclusive environment for young people, children and their families, aimed at enriching the matchday experience. Activities include an inflatable football target, mini football matches, face painting, colouring, lego and much more! Rachele helps bring this to life, providing energy and enthusiasm to make games at Plough Lane a memorable experience for young children, especially if they are attending for the first time.

London Football Clubs Launch New Programme to Help Young People Find Employment

Football Clubs across London are part of an exciting new programme which will provide 16-24 year olds that are struggling to find work, with the key skills and experience to find meaningful employment.

The EFL Trust’s Training Ground programme is aimed at young people who are struggling to get that critical first step on the employment ladder. The initiative is aimed at young people that are trapped in the vicious circle of not being able to find meaningful employment because they do not have the skills or experience that they can only gain by being in work.

Debbie Cook, Director of Community for the charitable arm of EFL said “This is a unique opportunity for young people to overcome barriers and unlock their potential. They will be supported through our Training Ground programme which provides practical support and training, alongside mentoring and wellbeing activities that will increase the confidence of participants.”

The Training Ground programme offers small groups the chance to receive one to one mentoring; participate in group workshops on topics such as life skills and money management; undertake work experience or volunteering in a range of contexts to develop employability skills, and to improve their physical and mental wellbeing.

The course looks after the body and mind, combining both developing employability skills and improving health and wellbeing. Employability is developed by teaching key skills such as team building, interpersonal skills and CV writing. The health and wellbeing element of the programme combines physical health activity with mental health support.

The programme will be run at 11 Clubs in Greater London:  Wimbledon, Arsenal, Brentford, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Leyton Orient, Millwall, Queen’s Park Rangers, Tottenham Hotspurs and West Ham United

This project is funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.  The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a central pillar of the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda and provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills.

The EFL Trust Training Ground programme is currently available to those aged 16-24 living within the Greater London Authority area and is an employability programme designed to support those seeking employment or further training.

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