The Fulham Football Club Foundation changes lives for the better in the community
‘Every school holiday we run Soccer Schools in Bishops Park for boys and girls aged 3 to 14 of all playing abilities. They are fun, sociable events and what’s lovely is that members of the first team squad often pop down and spend some time with the children. Of course, we can never predict who will turn up and when, but the players always enjoy the experience. It’s typical of the excellent support we receive from the Club.’
The Club is Fulham and I’m talking to Karen Taylor, Head of Operations at its successful charitable arm – the Fulham FC Foundation. Karen is responsible for managing a 30-strong team, a figure that in itself reveals the Foundation’s ambitious vision. It runs a remarkable range of proven community-based health and wellbeing, social inclusion, education, employability, environmental and sports skills programmes that reach 12,000 people every season.
‘We were founded in 2002 with the simple aim of helping to build better lives,’ says Karen. ‘That objective has never changed. Using sport as the hook to engage both young and old, we try to help people overcome their daily challenges and provide them with a more positive future.’
The Foundation’s qualified coaches work closely with local primary and secondary schools to develop pupils’ sporting and life skills through curricular and extra-curricular activities. During 2016/17 3,876 children took part and, in addition, 33 teachers completed the Teacher Training P.E. course.
‘First-team player Denis Odoi is our Schools Ambassador and he’s very generous with his time,’ adds Karen. ‘Also, our Football & Education scheme offers academic support to athletes taking A-Levels and BTEC qualifications. We’re particularly proud that we have youngsters who joined us at an early age and have gone on to work for the Foundation itself.’
At the other end of the age spectrum, the Foundation organises adult health projects, such as walking football for those who haven’t participated in physical activity for a while, and a programme called Sporting Memories for older adults who might feel isolated. ‘Those sessions are held once a month at Craven Cottage,’ explains Karen. ‘Participants get together and just chat about their sporting reminiscences – and you don’t have to be a Fulham fan to attend. We even have people coming wearing their Chelsea shirts!’
The Foundation is also committed to growing the women’s game – there is a clear playing pathway for girls from age five right through to the Fulham FC Women’s team – and supporting disability sport (Fulham was the first professional club in London to field a Down’s Syndrome team).
‘We want to overcome barriers and disadvantages and create immediate and long-term opportunities,’ says Karen. ‘That might mean enabling an individual to make the most of their sporting potential, develop core life and work-related skills, gain qualifications or boost their confidence and meet new people. It’s amazing to see what the power of sport can achieve.’
Fulham FC Foundation
Training Ground, Motspur Park
New Malden, Surrey, KT3 6PT
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