The SPFL Trusts “Trusted Trophy Tour” visited Aberdeen FC on the 4th April on the latest leg of a unique journey to highlight the amazing work of professional clubs in Scotland. A large turnout of kids was at Spain Park, the home of Banks O’Dee FC. The SPFL Trophy and Betfred Cup was in attendance and the kids got the opportunity to get their hands on the coveted trophies with former Scotland & Aberdeen manager Craig Brown alongside Lewis McDonald MSP for Labour who represents the North East.
Currently, the SPFL Trust and all 42 member clubs engage with an estimated 710,000 individuals each year. This is around 13% of Scotland’s population. According to research conducted by the SPFL in 2016.
Delivered as part of the Scottish Government’s programme of legacy following Glasgow’s 2014 commonwealth games, clubs were tasked following the event with identifying need in their own communities.
At Aberdeen, community programmes support a range of participants and focus on:
• Football Fans in Training
• Stop Quit and Be Fit
• Cultural Awareness Workshops
• Ethnic & Religious Minority Based Club Development
• Free to play participant centres
• New Syrian Dons and many more exciting topics.
Aberdeen FC Community Trust also does grassroots football courses for children and coach education programmes for adults. AFC Community Trust have also inaugurated a Street Soccer programme which involves children taking part in football sessions which involve decision making, problem solving, improvisation and most importantly having fun.
Liam Duncan, Scottish FA Club Development Officer, Aberdeen shared more information on the Street Soccer programme when he said, “This is our street football camp which is the 1st time we have done this camp and it sold out within a couple of weeks of it going on sale which was brilliant.
“It’s went down really well and the kids have been enjoying it. It’s a great chance to show off the partnership we have with the SPFL Trust and we do a lot of stuff in partnership with them and it’s brilliant for them to take the SPFL & Betfred trophies up here to Aberdeen today.
“We are trying to move away from the more traditional camps that we do. We want the kids to come along and express themselves & enjoy themselves. We can deliver a lot of small sided games and 1v1 activities and also try and help them along the way. If there is any information or coaching we can give them then great. This is definitely something we are keen to do more of in the future.
“From the football in the community side of things just now we have got our holiday programmes on. We have got another 5 camps this week and 2 camps next week. I think we have got about 300 kids attending over both weeks of the Easter holidays. We have a number of camps which run in the School holidays and also during term time. A lot of the partnership we do with the SPFL Trust is on our wider community engagement programmes. We have got a lot of great programmes running at the moment that it’s hard to pick out a few and the numbers that we get are fantastic.”
Former Aberdeen and Scotland manager Craig Brown also discussed the day as a whole who said, “The enthusiasm for football in this city is great. With Aberdeen FC doing so well this season then it’s helping to encourage youngsters to be interested in the sport. The success of the youth development is really dependent on how the 1st team do.
“I heard a great lecture years ago from the British Lions coach Jeff Cook who said: “If the rugby team is doing well then we sell replica strips, we get kids on courses and we don’t need to advertise.” There is such great enthusiasm in this city for football that word of mouth can get kids coming to courses.
“There was a European awards night less than a year ago and we were represented because we were competing for the award for best community club exercise in the whole of Europe. Many people around Europe now know Aberdeen FC has a community trust to be proud of.”
Labour MSP Lewis McDonald also spoke about the day when he said, “It’s always good to see trophies arrive in Aberdeen and good to see the children coming out and enjoying the football as well. It’s been a great day and the facilities here at Banks O’Dee are facilities that benefit everybody in the community and congratulations to Banks O’Dee for making such a good resource available to the people that live here and thanks to AFC Community Trust, SPFL Trust and everybody else that has been involved in making today such a success.
“AFC Community Trust is fantastic trailblazers in lots of ways. Some of the stuff that AFC Community Trust started off has now been copied by not just Scotland but England and Germany as well. It’s good to see the difference a Community Trust can make with the backing of the football club and addressing some of the health issues that people have and reaching people that ordinary health services can’t reach. Some people don’t want to go to the doctors or talk about what is wrong with them.
“We are about communities and about giving people every opportunity in life so when we see something that is doing that then we want to support it because that’s in line with labour values. To see it here at grassroots in an organised and fun way and something I definitely want to get behind.”