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Football Association commits to additional £60,000 funding to support UCLan’s grassroots sports initiatives

Football Association commits to additional £60,000 funding to support UCLan’s grassroots sports initiatives Banner Image

UCLan’s Cian McEvoy and Sarah Berry (centre) with the Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Centre team.

UCLan receives an additional three years of funding for its University Grassroots Hub

The Football Association (FA) has confirmed its support for the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) grassroots football development by providing an additional three years of funding for its University Grassroots Hub.

UCLan became a Grassroots Hub, formerly a FA community Hub, in 2013 when it teamed up with the Lancashire County Football Association.  Since then it has gone from strength to strength by working with local community groups on several successful projects designed to boost sports participation in the community, particularly in underrepresented groups.  In recognition of this success, the FA, in partnership with British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS), has committed to providing £60,000 to fund UCLan’s Grassroots Hub until July 2020.

UCLan Football Development Officer Cian McEvoy is funded through the scheme.  He said: “Through my role I’ve been involved in a lot of projects that utilise sport to benefit many different people from the local community in a variety of ways.  I am delighted that the FA has recognised this and provided further funding that will allow UCLan to work closely with local partners on initiatives to improve both physical and mental well-being through sport.”

The charity has also benefited from additional UCLan students giving up their time as volunteers, many as coaches, to the advantage of the Preston community.

The University’s Grassroots Hub programme has played an important role in the development of the Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Centre (PSC), in partnership with UCLan Students’ Union, which has grown from a charity providing football coaching to 4 to 16-year-olds, including disabled children, into a full functioning club with several age group teams.

Based at UCLan Sports Arena (USA), the centre also boasts two women’s open age teams, an adult men’s team, four disabled men’s teams and provides football coaching sessions for homeless people.  Its community contribution was acknowledged with a royal visit from HRH Prince Harry last year.

Pete Mason, Chair of the Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Centre, said: “As a Hub Club, in partnership with both the Lancashire Football Association and UCLan, The Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Centre and FC has benefited from the services of Cian McEvoy in his role as the Football Development Officer.

“The charity has also benefited from additional UCLan students giving up their time as volunteers, many as coaches, to the advantage of the Preston community. We have numerous UCLan volunteers assisting with our adult pan disability, refugee and asylum seeker, young disability and able-bodied 4 to 16-year groups as well as in our football teams aged 7 to 14-years, without whom we would struggle to provide the service we do to the wider community. In return, the UCLan students benefit greatly from their exposure to volunteering in the community.

“Now that funding has been secured for a further three years for Cian's post, we will be looking to build on what has been a successful year and developing our offering of football coaching and the opportunities for experiential learning to the UCLan students.”

Cian, in his Football Development Officer role, has also worked with other community partners such as Kemple View mental health hospital and Creative Support’s Blackburn Social Inclusion Service to arrange football tournaments promoting positive mental health and social inclusion.  UCLan also helped to arrange the UK’s first ever women’s walking football tournament in July last year to mark 100th anniversary of the Dick, Kerr Ladies football team.

The partnership has provided our client group with a number of new and exciting opportunities through sport aiding both wellbeing and recovery.

Paul Hardman, support co-ordinator for Creative Support’s Social Inclusion and Floating Support Services in Blackburn, commented: “This is fantastic news for UCLan and fully deserved. Creative Support, through its Social Inclusion Football League and ladies sessions, has worked very closely with Cian and UCLan Grassroots Hub Project Manager Sarah Berry over the past year.

“The partnership has provided our client group with a number of new and exciting opportunities through sport aiding both wellbeing and recovery.  We look forward to continuing this partnership for many years to come.”

Looking ahead to the future of the Hub, Sarah Berry added: “Over the next three years we aim to continue the growth and development of our University Grassroots Hub workforce through providing high standard and realistic football coaching and volunteering opportunities to our university students.  Creating a world class football offer is something we are striving to achieve both with our university students and the local community.”

Lyndsey Boardman | 10 January 2018