Joy of Moving moves online to support families

The Joy of Moving programme has been supporting year 5 children across EFL Communities in the UK for the past 6 years. The Joy of Moving programme has consisted of two elements; the Move & Learn project and Joy of Moving Festivals. Over 300,000 children have been introduced to moving and learning new skills all while having fun and playing.

Now, in challenging times with us all in lockdown, we have moved the programme that is traditionally delivered by our Football Club Community coaches in schools to online to help more families benefit from the fun games and activities. Our aim is to teach children how to enjoy moving through play and to help them develop positive habits for their future. These are great games to play with your children to get them moving and most importantly playing!

The games and activities are based on the unique Joy of Moving methodology, developed by Ferrero with key independent parties including Foro Italico (Rome University) and the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI). This methodology inspires children to move through play across the world, whilst developing key skills in four major areas: physical fitness, motor coordination, cognitive functions and creativity and life skills. 

This is not just another set of exercises or a cardiovascular workout which can often switch children off and make them feel under pressure. This is a method of offering you a series of fun games to play with your family, in a way that they will enjoy. We understand that you may not have all the time in the world so we’ve deliberately made the games short and bite sized, to get them moving and having fun! They can be done at home in a lounge, garden or any space you can find!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing the Joy of Moving games and activities on our social media channels and you can find them all on our website

You’ll find a range of games and activities you can do at home including Elastic Bridge, The Mirror and The Cap Race.

Join us now to experience the Joy of Moving and bring that joy into your home! Share your fun moments with us through #JoyofMoving.

FIT FANS online campaign launches to get football fans active

The EFL and EFL Trust have today launched an online FIT FANS campaign to provide a safe way for fans to get active in the safety of their homes.

In support of Sport England’s ‘Stay in Work Out’ campaign, the programme will ensure fans have a safe way to start and maintain exercise safely, during this current period.

According to new research released by Sport England, over 65% of people believe that exercise is helping them with their mental health, making an active lifestyle more important than ever for EFL fans and the nation.

Over the next 12 weeks we will feature sessions developed by two fitness coaches, Scott Copeland and Steph Thompson from the Club Community Organisation (CCO) network and will be released twice a week for fans to follow and get involved.

The sessions will introduce the concepts of safe warm up and cool down, increasing daily step counts and activity levels gradually, before moving onto sessions including aerobic strength and training. The exercises will vary and be fun to really give fans the chance to keep moving and see improvements in their fitness.

The sessions will be released each week on Wednesday at 5pm and Saturday at 11am on the EFL and EFL Trust YouTube channels, and will be available for fans to watch at their own leisure within the safety of their own homes.

Stay home, save lives and join the FIT FANS movement as we find new ways to keep moving in around our homes.

MFC Foundation aims to inspire confidence and hope in young people and adults who need support

MFC Foundation are one of many EFL Club Community Organisations working tirelessly to ensure they maintain a positive impact in their local community despite the difficult situation we are currently facing.

Helena Bowman, Head of the Foundation based at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium, says the need to engage with the community has never been greater. While using the power of the club badge and their resources to reach out brings everyone together.

“Never has it been so important that we are here to support our community. As a charity, working in the heart of the Teesside community, MFC Foundation aims to inspire confidence and hope in young people and adults who need our support.

“I’m extremely proud of our staff who not only have adapted their programmes to provide online resources and tools to support learning from home, but are also working directly in the community assisting those who need us most.

“With the elderly and most vulnerable isolated, there is a worry they will struggle to get hold of essential food items and there are many requiring help. MFC Foundation are doing all they can to ensure no-one in the community goes hungry during this pandemic.”

As well as donating £1,000 worth of food to a Middlesbrough food bank, the Foundation are also offering practical help, ensuring food is getting delivered. There are 40 elderly residents who rely on Redcar and Cleveland food bank who would usually visit once a week to collect their food. MFC Foundation have stepped in to deliver this to them. In addition, they are also working with the local council to help elderly residents with their shopping who can’t get an online delivery slot.

It is not just the elderly and vulnerable who are at risk of going hungry during these unprecedented times. Many families across the community are supported by free school meals during term time and with schools being closed, this could become problematic to parents, particularly those whose income is affected.

Just recently, the players of Middlesbrough Football Club clubbed together to buy 1,000 food parcels, ones distributed by club and Foundation staff, plus volunteers.

MFC Foundation are supporting families in East Cleveland by distributing free school meals to 75 households, 3 times per week. Staff have also raised the spirits of these local families by dressing up as superhero characters to make the deliveries.

Helena added: “From delivering free school meals across East Cleveland to supporting the NHS with deliveries and shopping for the vulnerable and elderly, we have re-focussed our efforts to support where we can, whilst following government guidelines of social distancing.”

With most schools closed, many youngsters are missing out on vital education and so MFC Foundation have developed a ‘Virtual Classroom’ that has a plethora of resources for young people and adults to take part in.

Meeting daily challenges head on, MFC Foundation are doing all they can to keep participants of their projects engaged. They are currently working with a quarter-finalist from MasterChef who is cooking and developing food parcels including Sunday lunches which are being delivered to participants of their ‘Team Talk’ and ‘Kitchen Therapy’ programmes.

Just recently, an online collaboration with the Head Chef of Middlesbrough Football Club, Howard Archer, brought recipe ideas to a new audience. This is a weekly engagement and one that has proved very popular.

Another initiative MFC Foundation are working hard to continue is their FITBORO programme, a project designed to help and support participants lose weight and lead healthier lifestyles. Staying fit and healthy now is as important as ever and so the program has been adapted so that exercise sessions have been delivered through Zoom and WhatsApp.

Every Player Counts is a disability programme aiming to get participants playing regular football. Whilst this is not currently possible, MFC Foundation have been working hard to get resources and activity plans out to their participants to keep them active and happy.

There is also a recognition that spirits in the community might be a bit low right now, so the Foundation are using their social media channels to release a Midday Message in the hope of lifting spirits in a variety of ways.  

“Every avenue is being explored, every resource used and we’re helping where we can and it is safe to do,” concluded Helena, Head of a Foundation who are meeting challenges and helping others adapt to the most testing, challenging of times most of us have ever known.

Cambridge United – Here for U’s

As the reality of the impact on their community became clearer, under the banner of the Club’s ‘Here for U’s’ campaign, Cambridge United’s Community Trust have been working tirelessly to provide practical, emotional and physical support to their area.

Their response takes into consideration the variety of people and their needs in the local community and aims to provide exactly what their community needs to get them through this difficult time…

Sam Gomarsall, Community Trust Manager, explains:

“Here for U’s is all about providing the people who need it with practical, emotional and physical support. These are unprecedented times and the club wants to do everything it can to play its part in helping our community through this. Naturally, we’re having to adapt our approach to community work of course, but we’re as committed as ever to being there for our local community when they need us the most.”

Amongst the many strands of work under the Here For U’s project, Cambridge United Community Trust have teamed up with the Cambridge City Council’s Food Poverty Alliance, to ensure that vulnerable children in the area will continue to get the meals they need during the holiday period. This is not an unusual practice for the Community Trust, as many children and families attend the stadium in school holidays as they are supported with activities and meals. However, with the current situation preventing their ability to do so, an alternative solution had to be found.

Cambridge United’s club catering manager has volunteered to work with the Trust to ensure meals are prepared and the team then distribute them to the relevant homes. Throughout the period of lockdown, a total of over 1,717 two-course meals will have been provided in the local area. Alongside the meals, activity packs have been provided to support the learning of young people, for whom structure and having something to do in the day will be so important.

Alongside this brilliant approach to ensuring the continuation of a normal provision for the Trust, is the opening of a Community Careline. The Careline gives those over 70 and those self-isolating the chance to have a friendly chat, make the team aware that they need food or wellbeing support and also give the Trust the chance to signpost those most vulnerable to other support groups in conjunction with the local authorities such as Mutual Aid.

Another innovation has seen Cambridge United’s EFL Community Project of the Year (League Two) online to support school children with their mental health. Showing once again their ability to adapt, the Trust have developed and provided online resources for the project to schools in their area so they can be sent out to school children to complete their learning in this vital area of wellbeing.

The club and Trust have also been encouraging their fans and participants to share their favourite football memories and next to launch is an online version of their project ‘Active Science’ in conjunction with Astra Zeneca.

The Trust’s strong focus on online education opportunities is no coincidence. 

Sam explains: “There is a real risk that this period will widen the educational inequality gap in our communities and across the UK. We want our community to know that we are with them throughout this difficult time and will continue to build and adapt our approach to support them with their most important needs.”

Connor: “I have autism, but I don’t let it stop me”

EFL Trust NCS Graduate Connor Burleigh explains how having autism has helped him do things he didn’t think were possible and how much of a positive impact the NCS programme has had on his confidence…

I struggled quite a bit with my autism in Primary school. It might have been because I came from a small community and felt a bit like the odd one out. But I also struggled a lot more with changes to routines than I do now, so the experience of education was quite challenging in those years. This caused me to lag behind, and I went into secondary school not very confident and with really poor reading skills due to lack of engagement in classes. 

But, in truth, secondary school was a new start for me personally. There was a much better support base in place which allowed me to get caught up with my lessons. And, by the end of Year 7 I was a member of the schools eco council and had completed the school’s reading scheme ahead of schedule. The increased amount of people helped too as there were more students who also had autism, and really were in the same boat as me, so it was easy to connect with them.

For me, my autism has always affected how I talk to crowds. I used to struggle a lot, so getting involved in social action has really helped. The Doncaster Youth Council has proper support and training in place that allows me to improve my public speaking skills. It started with me speaking more regularly at youth council meetings. I remember the first one, I just sat at the back of the room not speaking to anyone for the entire meeting! 

But, over time I started speaking up, and even though getting involved was out of my comfort zone, it really helped build my confidence. Being involved in social action projects allows me to be part of something bigger than myself and make a difference in my community. I think those things also give me the motivation to continue to speak to new people and find more public speaking opportunities.

NCS was a great experience as it really allowed me to get out of my comfort zone in a controlled environment. The challenge week helped me learn new skills, and the social action week meant I could give back to my local community. It was also the first time I had stayed away from my parents for a significant amount of time and the experience really changed my life. 

Before going on NCS I was quite unsure if I wanted to go to university. This experience of living away from home really gave me the confidence to apply and I now have a conditional offer from the University of St Andrews! 

After NCS, I successfully applied for the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Youth Board run by the EFL Trust. This led to me taking on another new challenge: using public transport. I had never been on a train alone before so this was quite a shock, with the business of the train stations. Luckily my fellow board members and the staff were really supportive. Since then I’m much more comfortable using public transport on my own, even applying and becoming an #iwill ambassador, and travelling around the country in this role. 

Autism is a wide spectrum and it affects no two people the same way. But, the advice I can give, and wished other people had told me when I was younger, is to try and get involved in as many opportunities as you can. Autism doesn’t define me, it doesn’t define you, and we shouldn’t let it affect our futures.


Autism Awareness Day: Dec’s story

Dec: “If you really want something and work hard, then you can do anything.”

Student, volunteer and member of Bristol City Robins Foundation’s award-winning youth council, Dec Stone, hasn’t let autism stop him from making a positive change in his community and he continues to inspire those around him.

Dec says: “People shouldn’t really see autism as a disability or think that just because someone is autistic it means that they cannot do things. If you really want something and work hard, then you can do anything.”

Dec was selected to be part of the Robins Foundation’s Youth Council – a body of eight young people who use their understanding of challenges faced by the local community to help shape the Foundation’s delivery. Whilst Dec was a shy and introverted individual to start with, he quickly grew in confidence and has become a central member of the council over the four years in which he has been a member.

Over this period the Council have helped the Robins Foundation launch initiatives such as the award winning free female fitness & football hub and a social inclusion session in an area of deprivation within Bristol. This provision now engages with over 80 young people per session and has a resulted in a drastic reduction in criminal activity in the area that it operates in.

The incredible work of Dec and the rest of the Youth Council has been recognised at a national level with the body of youngsters picking up awards from both the EFL and the FA.

Dec’s involvement with the Robins Foundation however does not stop there as he also studies with the Foundation on its unique Sports Media education course. Dec has thrived on this course and was commended for his hard work and dedication at last year’s Foundation education awards evening.

In addition to this, Dec also volunteers on a number of the Robins Foundation’s projects including the social inclusion session – which he and the youth council played a pivotal role in establishing – and the Foundation’s disability football project.

Dec is an inspiration to the participants of the disability football project where he acts as a role model to the youngsters who attend the sessions.

Jenny, a parent of one of the participants at Bristol City Robins Foundation’s disability football project, said: “My son Sean – who has autism – has not engaged in anything before, but he loves coming to the football sessions with the Robins Foundation.

“The team are fantastic, in particular Declan, who could really relate to Sean. Declan made him them feel at ease and took away any pressure.”

Janice, a grandparent of another one of the youngsters at the Robins Foundation’s disability football sessions commented: “My grandson is autistic and thoroughly enjoys his time at the Foundation’s Tuesday evening disability session. It gives him the opportunity to do a sport that would otherwise not be available to him.

“The staff are so patient with the children, it’s a pleasure to watch the children engage with them whist teaching them new skills and not being judged because of their special needs.”

Dec told the Foundation: “When I first started at the Youth Council, I was way out of my comfort zone. However, I did not let this dissuade me from perusing my goals, and I am so proud of all that we have achieved.”


Autism Awareness Day: Matthew’s story

“He has always been made to feel as though he belongs there and this has given him the confidence to talk in a group which hasn’t always been easy for him.”

Matthew attends Derby County Community Trust’s weekly ‘Ability Counts’ sessions as part of the Every Player Counts network which provides inclusive sessions for all. This session has a particular focus on supporting participants with autism.

The Every Player Counts programme funded by EFL Trust and Wembley National Stadium Trust covers 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.

Matthew’s parents said, “Matthew has been attending football training sessions with Derby County Community Trust since he was around 11 years old and has enjoyed it so much is still going eight years later. He really looks forward to going and loves scoring goals and also the celebrations.

“He has always felt comfortable with the staff and loves telling them about his passion for Derby County and football in general. He has always been made to feel as though he belongs there and this has given him the confidence to talk in a group which hasn’t always been easy for him.

“He now seems to enjoy it as much for the social interaction as he does for the football. We feel he gets a lot from the sessions as he seems more animated and talkative afterwards.”

Matt added that he likes taking penalties and the warm up sessions. He remembers when two of the Derby County players came to one of the sessions and he got to play football with them.

Staff at Derby County Community Trust are really proud of Matthew’s development throughout the years he’s been involved.

Stuart Asquith, Inclusion Officer at the Trust, said: “So many of our sessions are about much more than football and the way Matt has grown in confidence since he first started has been amazing. He continues to be an important part of the group and supports us as coaches too and we hope to have the pleasure of his company for many years to come!”


Nadine: “I’ve gone from being shy and not wanting to leave the house, to getting active and being part of a team.”

After finding herself unemployed for over a year, Nadine was determined not to let her Austistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) get in the way of her ambitions.

Nadine enrolled on an Employability and Skills project with Cardiff City FC Foundation, which provides young people with support to develop their personal and social skills.

The project gave Nadine the experience and confidence to make the successful transition back into employment, and in-turn, become less isolated.

“Being part of the Foundation has changed me; they’ve accepted me for who I am. I’ve gone from being a shy person with anxiety and not wanting to leave the house to getting active and being part of a team.”

Nadine is now a part-time member of the Foundation team. She is thriving in her role as an Inclusion Project Worker, supporting children and young people with a disability.

Using sport as a tool, she helps to improve their physical health, social interaction and confidence levels.

Autism Awareness Week: Hannah’s story

This week is Autism Awareness Week. We kick off the week with a great story from Fulham FC Foundation…

Hannah, who has Autism, has not only built up her self-esteem and confidence with Fulham FC Foundation but is also well on her way of achieving her dreams of becoming a fully qualified football coach.

The 28 year-old first started with Fulham FC Foundation as a volunteer just over six years ago. At the time, the Foundation was looking for volunteers to help on the Active Autism Programme. Despite having no prior experience working with children, and being nervous about the changes to her schedule, Hannah stepped up to take on the role.

She said: “When I first started to volunteer, of course I was scared and nervous at the same time, as I didn’t know how the children would be with having a new face around. After a few months I got used to it and so did the kids.”

Hannah became a regular, reliable face at Active Autism sessions, and after a few years of coaching, Hannah was given the opportunity to complete her Level 1 in Football Coaching.

Reflecting on the opportunity, Hannah commented: “When I got told that I was able to do the Level 1 in Football Coaching course I was over the moon, scared and nervous as I thought I wasn’t going to get through it and pass… but I did!”

Participants attending Hannah’s sessions have developed immensely in the time that she’s been coaching. The chance to take part in sessions that are tailored to their needs means a great deal to the participants, as well as the coaches.

For Hannah this became something very personal, helping her to develop her own skills as a coach and build her self-esteem and self-confidence.

She added: “Being involved with these sessions means so much to me, as they boost up my confidence, which I didn’t have much before.

“This also gives me a chance to achieve my dream to become a fully qualified football coach and work with kids with special needs.”

Ahead of the 2018/19 season, Hannah completed a Coach Assessment to become an Assistant Coach at the Foundation. Since September, she’s become a staple in delivering disability provision in SEN and mainstream schools, as well as supporting Pan Disability Football Hubs.

“Now that I have been given the chance to have my work increased, it is very exciting and somewhat scary at times,” she explained. “I work in a mainstream school as an assistant coach, but I’m used to working with children with additional needs.

“I believe that the more sessions I do, the more confident I will get. In the future, I would like to be able to proceed onto the Level 2 course and also be able to run my own sessions without any help, but that that will take time.”