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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.”

Clubs unite for EFL Day of Action

All 72 EFL clubs and their community trusts will come together on the same day for the EFL’s Day of Action to demonstrate the positive impact football can have in changing young people’s lives.

From Plymouth to Peterborough and Sunderland to Southend, on Tuesday 20th March, EFL clubs across all three divisions will showcase the innovative and ground breaking work they do for young people in tackling some of the biggest issues in society across education, health, community inclusion and participation.

Managers and players from the EFL’s 72 clubs will be attending events up and down the country including projects that target mental health, disability and obesity.

In London, Millwall are running a mental health football tournament being held in memory of one of their players who recently died. Over 100 people are due to take part in the Dwain Inniss Cup with manager Neil Harris on hand to offer his support.

Six first team players from Bristol City will be seeing the innovative work of the club’s Youth Council, a group of young people that are making a big impact in their local area by shaping and delivering Bristol City’s community activities including girls, disability and street football. Whilst neighbours Bristol Rovers are inviting their 16-18 year old disability squad to join the first team for a training session lead by manager Darrell Clarke, followed by lunch with the first team squad.

In Yorkshire, Doncaster Rovers have committed to a whole day of activity, including a special appearance from midfielder Matty Blair, who has fronted the club’s efforts to raise awareness of mental health by drawing on his own personal experiences after the loss of his brother Ross to cancer in August 2017.

In the Midlands, Derby County will be celebrating the success of their cancer recovery programme over the past twelve months, with appearances from former Birmingham City striker Geoff Horsfield and Celtic and Aston Villa midfielder Stylian Petrov, who themselves have been affected by the illness.

There is plenty of activity being held by League Two clubs, with Cambridge United showcasing their Enterprise Project, an innovative new programme designed to help secondary school students develop their entrepreneurial and employability skills. School children in Lincoln will be running the Sport Relief Mile around the pitch at Cecil Park alongside players from the Club to raise money for the charity.

EFL Chairman, Ian Lenagan said:

“Football continues to support its communities seven days a week, 365 days a year through our unique network of Club community trusts.

“Bringing all 72 together on one day for the EFL Day of Action highlights the special role the EFL has in society and our collective ability to make a positive and lasting impact to the lives of millions of people.

“It is fantastic to see so many managers and players across England and Wales coming out in support of the excellent work being undertaken by their own Club right in the heart of their own community.

“There are few sporting organisations that can deliver the scale of innovative and ground breaking activity we do via our network of Clubs across so many important areas, including inclusion, charitable causes, community engagement, education or health.”

EFL Footballers take on NCS Grads

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

NCS (National Citizen Service) is a flagship government initiative that has provided 400,000 young people aged 16-17 the chance to take on new challenges, experience exciting activities, make long-lasting friendships and develop vital skills that will support them later in life.

The first footballer in the firing line is Rotherham United defender Ben Purrington who met Casey Holmes, a current member of EFL Trust’s Regional Youth board, and NCS Graduate from Rotherham.

Ben said: “It’s been a pleasure to meet Casey and learn more about NCS and her experience. The opportunities that NCS and Rotherham United offer are great for young people and I urge more to get involved.”

Talking about the YES/NO game, Ben continued: “It’s a lot harder than you think, but it was great fun and I did okay!”

The EFL Trust have been delivering the NCS programme since its pilot year in 2011 and now have a network of over 40,000 graduates. Using the power of football, EFL Trust are in a unique position to publicise the work that NCS are doing during the programme and after. Last year, the social media campaign #NCSMatchDay reached over three million people.

On 15th March, NCS Graduate and now professional footballer Louis Jones at Doncaster Rovers will take on fellow NCS Graduate Holly Dennis. To keep up to date, follow #SayYestoNCS.

To get £15* off NCS this Summer, click here.

EFL Kids Cup finalists in safe hands at Rovers

Blackburn Rovers goalkeepers David Raya and Jayson Leutwiler offered their support to the club’s EFL Kids Cup finalists Whitefield Primary by hosting a special hour long training session with the school.

The training session, which was held on the 4G surface at Priory Academy in Penwortham, Preston, was in preparation for the regional finals of the competition next month.

Raya and Leutwiler held a variety of different sessions including passing, dribbling and of course, their speciality, goalkeeping, for the primary schools young shot stoppers.

The children finished off with a mini game between themselves, which provided Raya and Leutwiler the opportunity to observe and offer any advice leading up to Whitefield’s EFL Kids Cup showdown in March at Wigan Athletic’s Robin Park Arena.

A win for Whitefield and Rovers will see the South Ribble based primary school don the famous blue and white jersey at Wembley Stadium in May in the EFL Kids Cup final ahead of the League One Play-Off final.

Leutwiler, who lives less than a mile away from Whitefield, hopes they can go all the way and reach the EFL Kids Cup final at the home of English football.

“We were there to offer advice and help Whitefield prepare for their matches coming up,” admitted the Canadian international.

“They all seemed to enjoy the training session we put on and straight away we could tell how much they love football.

“They are now playing for a chance to reach Wembley and I am sure it will be a dream come true for them if they can go all the way. I really hope they do well and I wish them all the best in the regional finals.”

To find out more information about the EFL Kids Cup visit: www.efltrust.com/kidscup/

Charlton Athletic mark Football v Homophobia Month with unique training session

Charlton Athletic’s management team took time out of their EFL League One promotion race on Thursday [22nd February 2018] to run a one-off training session for Charlton Athletic Community Trust Invicta FC. 

CACT Invicta FC are the first LGBTQI+ friendly team to be affiliated to a professional football club, as a part of February’s Football v Homophobia Month of Action.

Demonstrating Charlton’s commitment to supporting CACT Invicta’s aims to raise awareness of LGBT issues and tackle homophobia, CAFC First Team Manager Karl Robinson was joined by his Assistant Lee Bowyer and First Team Coach/Club Captain Johnnie Jackson.

The trio put the team through their paces with a punishing session at the Club’s Sparrows Lane training ground in New Eltham during a chilly lunchtime.

CACT Invicta FC is open to all players, regardless of their background. In their inaugural season in Charlton’s colours, Invicta are sitting top of the London Unity League, 6 points clear, with 4 games to play.

CACT Invicta Player/Manager Gary Ginnaw reflected on the nature of the ground breaking work his team were undertaking saying: “All we want to do is come down, play football, work hard and be successful.

“Hopefully we will have something to look back on in years to come that we achieved together and made a difference.”

Football v Homophobia is a grassroots campaign that exists to challenge discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression at all levels in football.

Charlton Athletic dedicated their home game against Oxford at the beginning of February to tackling homophobia, the second annual themed match-day of this kind at The Valley.

Speaking at the event, CACT Chief Executive Officer Jason Morgan MBE spoke about how Charlton Athletic has always led the way in fighting discrimination: ”There are certainly echoes of the work we undertook to combat racism in football back in the 1990’s. Those projects were picked up and taken to a national level.

”Similarly, it’s now great to see other clubs across the country now affiliating LGBTQI+ friendly teams and taking positive steps to promote inclusion and supporting this within club and community projects.”

 

To find out more about Football v Homophobia visit: www.footballvhomophobia.com/

Over 1800 females active through Female Fitness Exercise project

Over 1800 women across London have got more physically active thanks to the EFL Trust’s Female Fitness Exercise (FFE) project supported by the Mayor of London.

1287 of those females on the project were previously inactive and by December 2017, the project aims to have engaged at least 2,625 females across London.

The project also targets reducing the number of females who are classed as ‘inactive’; and specifically those who struggle to exercise regularly, such as the over 40’s or those with a disability.

Seven EFL clubs run the project through their community trusts, offering a wide range of activities – in addition to football – to help women keep active and improve their overall health and well-being.

One club in particular, Leyton Orient, have been working with the local Asian Women’s Support group through the FFE project to help ladies lose weight, increase fitness levels and improve their health and fitness knowledge.

Leyton Orient Trust have been working with the group, trying out a range of sport based activities and ran a 12-week football fans in training (FFIT) session alongside ‘soccersise’ – exercise fun using a football and football based techniques.

Philip Smith, Head of Health and Wellbeing at Leyton Orient Trust said: “It’s been great to work with the Asian Women’s Support Group to set up these sessions. Over the 12 weeks the group got to try out a range of activities, helping to build an enjoyable and positive experience around physical activity along with an understanding and deeper knowledge of how to make healthier lifestyle choices.

“It’s been lovely to see the group develop and see the impact it has made on their health. We are always keen to explore ways we can work with local groups to achieve positive outcomes for the community and this project is an excellent example of the impact partnership working can make.”

Many participants on the project had a chance to try out sports for the first time and after reaching their 12 week goal as a group, losing over 3 and half stone in weight, the ladies were invited to attend their first ever football match, enjoying a day out as guests of the club.

Manjit, one of the participants, commented: “The sessions were excellent. It was really interesting learning how to make healthier good choices and doing it together in a group made it lots of fun. I really enjoyed playing football and tennis; two sports I’d never tried out before. It was also great to attend my first ever football match too.”

Parm, another participant said: “I have become more active, lost weight and improved my diet. I still have some bad habits to get over in consuming food but I know they are bad now through the knowledge I have gained doing the course! I’ve also made lots of new friends through the programme too.”

To find out more about the Female Fitness Exercise programme visit: http://www.efltrust.com/female-fitness-exercise/

EXTRA TIME: ‘It takes years off you! I always claim I’m 29. I’m 87 and I love it.’

Shrewsbury Town in the Community’s ‘Extra Time’ programme is offering people over the age of 50 in Shrewsbury a new lease of life, and you have to look no further than participant Alan Bowers to see the impact the sessions are having on those in the community.

Alan, 69, is a season ticket holder at Shrewsbury Town, but also an active member of the Extra Time programme.

Alan has been a regular participant at the club since it started five years ago, and up until recently was also a part of the Shrewsbury Town in the Community’s walking football team.

Extra Time, is aimed at getting those over the age of 50 involved in sporting activities and socialising, with sessions run every Thursday.

It’s not just limited to football, either. Alan and co find themselves doing a range of different activities each week, and whether it’s hockey, rounders, basketball, walking football or ten pin bowling, there’s something for everyone to get stuck into.

Speaking of the programme, Alan said: ”It’s such a good group of people, and they all get on with one another.

”It doesn’t matter what we’re doing, they just get out there, get some air in their lungs and just do something a bit different.”

When asked how much he has gained since joining Extra Time, he added: ”So much. Making friends, keeping healthy, keeping fit. When you retire, you get to a point of, ‘what do I do next?’

”You can’t go to a pub every day, can you?…Well maybe you can!

”But you don’t want to do that, you want to do something different. We want to do visits, we go to the pantomime every year at Theatre Severn and we have  a trip every year.”

Joining Alan at Shrewsbury Powerleague every Thursday is Irene, 87, who has been part of Extra Time for four years.

Like Alan, Irene can’t speak highly enough of the sessions, and the group that she has become so close and friendly with.

”It’s the best club I’ve ever been to, it really is.” Irene said. ”It’s a laugh from the time you go in, to the time you go out, and everybody joins in.

”It doesn’t matter if you’re any good at it. I am no good at hitting the ball in rounders, the ball goes the wrong way!

”Everybody cares for one another, it’s great! If anybody is off colour or ill, we’ve got out phone numbers.”

For a healthy and youthful lifestyle, Irene insists Extra Time is the programme for you.

”It takes years off you! I always claim I’m 29! I’m 87 and I love it.

”The laughs you have, and the friends you make…A laugh a day makes all the difference.”

To find our more about Shrewsbury Town in the Community’s Extra Time sessions visit: https://www.shrewsburytowninthecommunity.com/activities/extra-time/

Kinder + Sport Move & Learn project shortlisted for FDF Award

The Kinder + Sport Move & Learn project, developed by EFL Trust and Ferrero, has been shortlisted for the ‘Education Initiative Award’ at the Food and Drink Federation Awards 2017.

The activity programme is designed to get children moving by encouraging dynamic play and sports amongst young people and their families, promote nutritional education and build awareness of the importance of a healthy diet and active lifestyle.

As childhood obesity levels continue to rise across Britain, Ferrero recognised a responsibility to take positive action to promote nutritional education and build awareness of the importance of a balanced diet and active lifestyle amongst children.

After forming a partnership with EFL Trust in 2014, the project has expanded to reach over 54,000 children in the UK and continues to grow.

Accrington Stanley are 1 of 24 EFL clubs who run the project through their Community Trust reaching out to schools across the country.

To read more about the FDF Awards 2017 click here.

FUTSAL AND EDUCATION: ‘From not knowing what to do in life, to representing my country in front of thousands’

EFL Trust Futsal and Education programme scholars, Morgan Pratt and Momodou Touray, are two prime examples of how the course can open the door to life changing pathways and experiences.

After approaching the end of secondary school, both boys were hesitant of what to do next in their lives. Never could they imagine that two years later, they would be playing for their home country in front of thousands of fans.

The boys were chosen to represent Wales at under-18 school boy level and played in international fixtures against England, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

“I wish I could relive the experience,” said Morgan. “From not knowing what to do with my life two years ago after finishing school, to then singing the Welsh national anthem away in Scotland in front of over a thousand people was unbelievable.”

Momodou commented: “I’ve always dreamed of playing for the Wales team. The atmosphere whilst coming on against Northern Ireland was phenomenal, it will be a moment I will never forget. It brought me to the realisation that this is only the beginning for me.”

The EFL Trust Futsal and Education programme specialises in offering a platform to young people who love sport but aren’t motivated by the classroom environment, presenting a different way to learn and progress in their careers.

Unlike regular college courses, students are able to combine studying sport, gaining qualifications that will enable progression into university, and play football and futsal with regular coaching to develop their technical, tactical and physical ability.

Morgan added: “I was unsure what to do next when I finished school. Then I came across an opportunity to go on the programme. At first I was worried about leaving my comfort zone and leaving my old school and friends – but it turned out to be the best decision I ever made.”

“I’ve always been interested in learning how the body works with nutrition, in different situations of exercise and activity,” Momodou said, “I’m so glad I chose to join the programme as I now realise it has helped me to understand nutritional information as a footballer and the best food and meals appropriate to contain a healthy diet.”

After representing Wales and going into his second year of the programme, Momodou has since signed a two year scholarship with Newport County AFC’s academy team.

He has already been named five times on the substitute bench for the first team, something that Newport County’s Futsal and Education Programme co-coordinator Dave Lewis is proud of.

He said: “It was fantastic to see Momodou offered a two year scholarship with the academy team and I am immensely proud to have played a part in his development.

“Both individuals [Momodou and Morgan] have showed a fantastic attitude towards their studies and consistently performed to an excellent standard during both futsal and football 11v11 games programmes.

“They both had unforgettable and outstanding experiences during their international fixtures which wouldn’t have been made possible if they weren’t part of the programme.”

The two scholars were also keen to encourage others with an interest in studying and playing sport to sign up to the programme.

“Anyone should consider signing up to the programme as it gives you the opportunity to not only study sport and get good qualifications, but also travel to different cities within the UK and play against experienced players,” Momodou said.

“You should sign up to the programme if you want to get a good education behind you,” added Morgan. “It gives you the tools to go to university and you get the chance to play lots of football and futsal which will definitely improve you as a player as the coaching is second to none.”

To find out more information about the EFL Trust Futsal and Education Programme visit: www.efltrust.com/futsal

Rotherham’s ‘Back Into Sport’ project shortlisted for award

Rotherham United Community Sports Trust’s (RUCST) ‘Back Into Sport’ project has been shortlisted for a 2017 National Lottery Award.

The project funded by Sport England and launched 12 months ago, reaches out to members of the black and ethnic minority community to encourage them to take up sport and physical activities.

‘Back Into Sport’ has increased levels of physical activity and sport among black and ethnic minority (BME) people at high risk of health-related issues. It has also worked with local schools, mosques and community groups to recruit participants and volunteers to help set up sports lessons and arrange matches.

Over half of Rotherham’s adult population do not take part in physical activity, according to a local authority survey. BME adults also face a number of barriers including hate crime, poor local facilities for sport, language and cultural barriers.

The project runs three netball sessions a week and has supported women from a local school to go on and set up a netball team to play competitive games. It also works with a local mosque to increase sport participation among male congregation.

Winners of the 2017 National Lottery Award will receive a £3,000 prize for their project and star in a BBC One television show.

Zanib Rasool from Back into Sport says: “We’re absolutely delighted to have made it through to the finals of The National Lottery Awards.  It’s wonderful for everyone involved in our work that our achievements with National Lottery funding have been recognised.   We hope all our supporters will vote for us so we can enjoy national recognition on BBC One later in the year.”

Inclusion officer Trudi Race said: “Rotherham is a town with a beautifully diverse mixture of culture and races. “Many of these people face barriers when it comes to accessing sport, particularly women. This project enables us to work with the participants to build trust and to make sport more accessible. The first year has seen an incredible increase in BME women accessing sport which is a proud achievement.”

To vote please click here: http://www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/project/back-sport