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Community

Saddlers and EFL Clubs shine light on community heroes

17 January 2024

Community

Saddlers and EFL Clubs shine light on community heroes

17 January 2024

Local community heroes will be celebrated up and down the country from Friday 12 January to Saturday 20 January as the EFL, EFL Trust, 72 EFL Clubs and their Community Club Organisations launch the first-ever EFL Community Weekends.

Across the period, Clubs, managers and players will mark the incredible work that community staff and volunteers deliver 365 days per year, while participants from community programmes will be honoured by special visits from players and matchday activities.  

As part of matchday activations, fans will get the chance to hear from participants that have had their lives changed or even saved by their Club’s community work and find out more details about the range of projects and ways to get involved.  

The Saddlers will celebrate the EFL Community weekend at this weekend’s match against Accrington Stanley.

Saddlers fans may recall young supporter, Alfie, who was mascot along with his friend and Grimsby Town fan, Reggie at our match back in August.

Unfortunately, Alfie suffers from a complex heart condition and has undergone multiple high-risk surgeries.

His bravery has been recognised after he won a Your Heroes Child of Courage award.

Walsall Football Club will invite Alfie to the training ground to visit the players and he will also attend Saturday’s match as our community champion.

We will also be highlighting the fantastic work Walsall FC Foundation does in tackling mental health through their Beat the Block sessions.  

A host of these community heroes and projects that will also be recognised include: 

  • Colchester United’s community champion, Lauren, who has recently been re-diagnosed with a brain tumour and is documenting her journey to raise awareness for other young people living with similar conditions
  • Volunteers from Hull City’s Street Soccer Academy, a funded programme designed to build confidence and life-skills for local young people
  • Programme leaders and participants from Ipswich Town’s ‘Senior Blues’ initiative, which provides an inclusive environment to tackle loneliness and promote active lifestyles
  • Kai, a member of Cambridge United’s autism football project, and his mother Becca who have been awarded the Club’s Inspirational Family Award
  • Derby County’s Alan Higgins, who has supported community sport at Oakwood for a number of years, including providing transport and subsidising fees for local children to play football
  • Yakub Mohammed, who has been a part of Swindon Town FC’s Refugee football squad since its launch in 2022
  • Rotherham’s community heroes who will be hosted in the Club’s Corporate Hospitality Lounge as a thank you for their continued efforts to the local community, including Jon Carnforth who was recently recognised in the King’s Honours list with an MBE for his services during the pandemic  

 

Trevor Birch, CEO of the EFL, said: “Community remains a fundamental part of the EFL and its 72 Clubs’ identity, so we are delighted to launch the latest strand of activity in this area – the EFL Community Weekends. The work undertaken by Clubs has a hugely positive impact on the participants of the various programmes and the towns and cities where people live.  

“Football continues to reach parts of local areas that others simply cannot and successfully addresses challenges linked to health, wellbeing, education and employment alongside helping to keep communities connected. We look forward to celebrating this incredible work in front of match-going fans over the coming two weekends across our network.”  

 

Liam Scully, Chair of the EFL Trust, said: “Our Clubs and Club Community Organisations engage more than 840,000 people from EFL communities all year round. To be able to showcase the Club community work as a collective and acknowledge the work of participants and programme leaders, many of whom are volunteers, further highlights the unique ability of our network.” 

The EFL Community Weekends build on the success of the recent EFL Week of Action in November – where the League and its Clubs shone a light on the significant impact Club community work has on towns and cities in England and Wales, valued at over £865m a season in the latest community impact report.   

During the 2021/22 season, EFL Clubs deployed a workforce of almost 10,000 (of which over 4,000 are volunteers) to support community activities, delivering in-kind support of over £40m and more than 120,000 hours of free or subsidised usage of community facilities to benefit the lives of those living in the local community.   

For more information on the EFL Community Weekends and the impact of EFL Club community work please visit www.efl.com 


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