His Royal Highness meets Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Development Centre and Lancashire Bombers Wheelchair Basketball Club to learn about sport and social change in the county
Prince Harry has visited the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) to learn more about local community sports initiatives helping with social development and inclusion.
His Royal Highness travelled to UCLan Sports Arena (USA) to visit the Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Development Centre (PSC), which works in partnership with UCLan and the Students’ Union (SU) to provide football coaching for all. He also met members of the Lancashire Bombers Wheelchair Basketball Club, a community Wheelchair Sports Club based at West View Leisure Centre in Preston.
During his visit, the Prince met representatives from both organisations who play and train in local leagues with a view to building new and unique friendships. Watch the video here.
PSC is the brainchild of chair Peter Mason and his wife Kath, whose vision was to open up football to young people from all communities in Preston regardless of their ability, disability, sex, colour, race or religious belief. Peter, who originally set up the centre in 1999, teamed up with UCLan and the Lancashire County Football Association in 2013 to pilot the FA community Hub Club development scheme.
"We now have a large and vibrant adult disability group, a new but very well attended refugee and asylum seeker group, a 4 to 16-year-old disability group and a thriving soccer centre for able-bodied 4 to 16-year-olds."
Peter commented: “The project has gone from strength to strength. We now have a large and vibrant adult disability group, a new but very well attended refugee and asylum seeker group, a 4 to 16-year-old disability group and a thriving soccer centre for able-bodied 4 to 16-year-olds. In addition, since 2014 we now have The Sir Tom Finney FC with 27 competitive teams, including two open age ladies teams, an under 18 ladies team and two open age male teams. The UCLan students are heavily involved in coaching all aspects of football and assist us greatly in providing footballing opportunities to a very wide community.”
Over the last 12 months, the Hub Club, led by USA Duty Supervisor Sarah Berry, has seen 69 UCLan student volunteers engaged in football and 36 UCLan coaches, both male and female, develop valuable football coaching experience. In addition, 23 new and experienced male and female referees have gained qualifications and experience in officiating.
Cian McEvoy, UCLan Football Development Officer, works with the University and the SU, UCLan Sports Arena, Lancashire Football Association (FA) and PSC to benefit the University and local community through football.
He said: “From working closely with the Hub Club project manager Sarah Berry, Pete and Kath from PSC and all the volunteers, it is fantastic to see the development that has taken place since my appointment in September 2016. I am proud to be part of such an inclusive and forward thinking project that provides opportunities in football for all. Since the partnership began, it is evident the positive impact this has had, both on our students and in the community, and I am confident this will continue to change people’s lives for the better.”
UCLan Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the University Board David Taylor met the Prince on his visit. He said: “The University of Central Lancashire is a civic anchor in the local community and UCLan Sports Arena plays a huge role in this. Not only do our staff and students benefit from our fantastic sports facilities, but many different local sports clubs also use it on a regular basis and it’s great to be able to share these success stories with Prince Harry.”
"Not only do our staff and students benefit from our fantastic sports facilities, but many different local sports clubs also use it on a regular basis and it’s great to be able to share these success stories with Prince Harry."
As part of his Lancashire tour, Prince Harry also visited Veterans UK in Norcross to mark the 25th anniversary of the Veterans UK Helpline Service.
UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Thomas added: “Working with military veterans is something that’s very close to Prince Harry’s heart and also to ours here at the University. We were able to tell His Royal Highness about the College for Military Veterans and Emergency Services, which has operated within UCLan since 2015 and has been involved in veterans’ work since 2004.
“The College works closely with ex-service people, including those from the emergency services, to help them and their families make a smooth transition from life in the uniformed services to civilian life.”
The Prince also travelled to St Michael’s on Wyre in follow up to his visit to the flood affected village in February 2016. He also went to Brockholes Nature Reserve to learn more about the Myplace project, which aims to empower young people by encouraging them to take action in environmental activity.