On Saturday 14th April, for their home game against Notts County, Brentford will be exchanging their traditional red and white stripes for a one-off, specially designed silver kit, to mark 25 years of Community Development.
Launched in 1987, with one full-time member of staff and the aim of taking football into the community, the organisation that is now the Community Sports Trust currently employs 30 full-time and 70 part-time staff plus an army of volunteers providing coaching in over 20 sports to thousands of local youngsters every year.
The original Football in the Community Programme, similar to many set-up at the same time across the country, was a joint initiative between Hounslow and Ealing Boroughs and Brentford. Over the intervening period, as recognition of the power of sport to address social issues became more widespread, the number of partner organisations has grown dramatically and the Trust has expanded beyond its original footprint into the neighbouring borough of Richmond too.
These partnerships have enabled the Trust to evolve into an organisation that delivers exciting and diverse programmes to its community. Football remains at the heart of the Trust's community involvement but the range of activities provided now even includes kayaking and canoeing from the Trust's boating arch under Kew Bridge.
Over the last 25 years, the work of the Trust has helped the club win a number of awards, not least of which is The Football League's Community Club of the Year Award in both 2006 and 2009 (League 1). Brentford remains the only Football League club to be accorded Community Mark status by Business in the Community.
The relationship between Brentford and the Trust remains close and has benefited both parties. Many of today's long standing supporters, including one of the club's directors, first encountered the club as a participant in Trust coaching sessions. The Trust has also discovered potential players for the Bees in the local schools and housing estates.
From the Trust's perspective, Lee Doyle, the current CEO, who joined the community programme in 1988, is always keen to stress the importance of the club's involvement. "Steve Perryman was team manager at the time of the launch and as a local lad realised the importance of the community.
"25 years later, we continue to receive excellent backing from Uwe Rosler, Mark Devlin and the Brentford directors and staff, providing player and club support which is essential to our continued success."
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