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Community Programme Launch 2021 Annual Report

28 April 2022

On 21st April the Walsall FC Community Programme were delighted to have launched their 2021 Annual Report that shares their successes throughout the year and the impact we have had on the local community.

2021 was another indifferent year, particularly as we started the first 3 months in Lockdown. Once again, sport was suspended and schools were shut. This resulted in the department having to close down and wait patiently for restrictions to ease. As we all know, there was an easing of restrictions between March and July and, bit by bit, we were able to restart our activities and serve the community as best we know how.

Pupils returned to schools in early March 2021 and, following all guidelines and precautions, we were able to send our staff back in to schools and support delivery.  PE and extra-curricular sports clubs were vital for students because so many had spent a lot of time unable to participate in physical activity.  This also supported the mental health and well-being of young people across the Borough.  Our school partners and schools accessing our PL Primary Stars Programme were keen to engage and restart as swiftly as possible and our work has seen a strong finish to 2021 supporting schools in the current academic year.

An air of caution surrounded the restart to our Health programmes due, in part, to the participants being listed amongst the most vulnerable to Covid.  We made sure that our hygiene and safety protocols were followed to the letter and that there was a safe return to our Mental Health, Healthy Lifestyle and Walking Football sessions.  It was evident that participants were keen to return to sessions and engagement with these programmes has remained high.  Man v Fat, FIT Saddlers and Beat the Block were all vital activities for the participants that access them and we are delighted to have also started our Children in Need Pan-Disability sessions for young people too.

Our Engagement delivery began in late March and saw the safe return of Saturday Club sessions, Soccer Schools and PL Kicks.  These are all vital core activities and the participants returned in large numbers.  The statistics will show that there was a real appetite for “normality” to resume and participants access these activities.  We are delighted to be a HAF (Holiday and Food) delivery partner for Walsall Council and the success of delivering healthy hot meals and football sessions to young people is a real highlight for us.  We have also looked to engage with diverse groups from around the Town, particularly in the immediate vicinity of The Banks’s Stadium, and our work with these groups will continue in to 2022.

Our Development Centre sessions, and Post 16 Football Academy, have had a rough time through Lockdowns and participants saw seasons and games cancelled due to restrictions.  In early March we were able to safely resume these training sessions and fixtures in March 2021 and it was clear that players had missed the competitive team sports.  The new 2021/22 season started in September and we have added a shadow Youth Team to our Sport delivery, partnering with the Youth Team and Academy at Walsall FC.  After a season of 1st Team matches without fans, the 2021/22 EFL season kicked off with fans returning to games and we offered free Match Visits to local groups, schools and grassroots teams to welcome fans back to matches.

In conclusion, what started as a difficult year ended with a lot of positivity. Credit must go to our dedicated staff, who have worked so hard to ensure that our delivery returns in force and continues to meet the high standards we set whilst also ensuring safety for all participants.  Our work just would not be the same without these hard working individuals that make a difference to so many lives.  Let’s hope that the positive end of 2021 can be a springboard for an even more productive 2022.

You can find the full report here

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