Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham & Aylesford, has visited Gillingham's Football in the Community team in a bid to learn more about their work throughout the year with a particular interest on how the club's work impacts on the local community.
The MP was joined at the Priestfield Stadium by Football League Trust Regional Manager for London and the South East, Loo Brackpool. During their visit they met The Gill's Head of Community Pete Sayer who talked them through the various initiatives the club provides and the people it engages with.
During the visit Tracey discovered that the main focus of the club's work is based around local Primary schools, which sees the delivery of Breakfast Clubs, in-class support, lunchtime clubs and support for Planning, Preparation and Assessment (PPA) time.
There are however some club community staff who are involved in a range of supportive roles away from the classroom. Over the past few year the Gills have worked closely with youth agency Fairbridge. Based in Kent Fairbridge work with young people aged 13-25 that other organisations find difficult to engage with and the club's role has been to offer the individuals a structured, positive activity on a regular basis throughout the year.
Gillingham also have coaches working at the Kent Pan Disability Centre of Excellence in order to help players progress in the game and develop their skills.
Another key project that is run through the club's Community Sports and Education Foundation is the Girls Centre of Excellence. Players are selected from trials held every year and are chosen on ability and potential levels. The girls train twice a week with matches on a Saturday morning.
Speaking about her visit, MP Tracey Crouch said: "I am very impressed by Gillingham's work in the community and admire the dedication of the club's staff who deliver a wide range of programmes and events.
It is evident that football clubs play a significant role in their local communities and I applaud Gillingham on their commitment and professionalism."
Highlighting the impact that football can have, Pete Sayer added: "As a Community scheme we know how much influence a professional football club can have on the local community and we therefore strive to make the game accessible to as many people as possible."
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