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Football focus

PS: At the present time the major growth area is girls’ football. It is normal to see primary schools with over 20 girls regularly turning up for after-school training even on wet and cold winter days. This has also developed at secondary level with three major girls’ tournaments planned for the summer term with 10 secondary schools. Much of this is due to the excellent coaching and involvement of our University of Bath students.

Pete Sellwood (executive director of the Foundation) Brian Lee (chairman of The Football Conference Trust) Paul Williams (chairman of Bath City FC) and Ken Loach (chairman of the Foundation) with the £15,000 cheque

Good sports

KEN LOACH and PETE SELLWOOD on taking Bath City FC Community Sports Foundation into schools

Bath Life: Tell us about what you do... KL: Bath City FC Community Sports Foundation takes football coaching into schools for both boys and girls. We also work with youth groups to encourage healthy living, community spirit and fun! And to promote the good name of Bath City FC with players visiting schools to coach the children and sharing information on diet and exercise. We organise after-school soccer clubs and Easter and summer soccer clubs every year too.

How was it set up? KL: Bath City Supporters’ Society has always had the aim of promoting Bath City FC in the community. This became a reality when Pete Sellwood, as chair of the society, set up the ‘Attacking Skills’ project, taking players into primary schools for training sessions with the children. This was a great success. As the work progressed and the possibility of attracting grants to develop the activities emerged, we were advised to become a charity. Bath City FC Community Sports Foundation was then established with Pete as its director.

What have you achieved so far? KL: The primary school work goes from strength to strength. Girls’ football has really taken off under the guidance of Fran Wild,

70 Bath Life The girls team at St Michael’s

from the University of Bath women’s team, and now runs in over 10 schools in Bath. And we go to Three Ways School to work with youngsters with special needs. PS: We are very proud of the relationship we have established with the University of Bath sports students who work alongside Bath City FC players and have become firm favourites with school children. They are excellent role models for young children and the schools are very pleased with their impact both on the children’s interest in sport and exercise and also on their general behaviour as well.

What’s been the most rewarding aspect of the Foundation’s work? KL: We know from teachers that the work in the schools in and around Bath has really supported young people, particularly those that need a helping hand.

Due to the successful development of girls’ football at Ralph Allen Academy, we have now been asked to share the coaching of Year Seven boys with the school PE staff. It is proving to be a very successful association. The group is bonding into a formidable team. Many of the squad attended the Easter Soccer Club and were bursting with pride having beaten a rival school considered to be one of the best in the area. They are enthusiastic with self- belief and a strong sense of achievement. These are just some of the moments when all the hard work is worth it.

You’ve just received £15,000 from the Football Conference Trust – how and where do you plan to spend the money in the Foundation? PS: Yes, it is exciting. This sum must be matched by other funding and we are lucky to be sponsored by The Medlock Trust, Touchstone and Curo, all of whom have supported us from the start. The funding is for our work in primary schools and secondary schools, to develop girls’ football and to work with children with physical and learning difficulties. We are also committed to provide footballing opportunities for 14 to 19-year-olds in Bath, with additional funding from the Somerset FA.

So how can others get involved with the Foundation? PS: We’d love to see more schools in Bath benefiting from the free football coaching and training we can provide and invite any schools who would like to participate to get in touch. KL: Become a ‘Foundation Friend’ and attend selected youth matches and tournaments to help with transport and organisation. We’d love to hear from local businesses too, who may like to contribute to the Foundation so we can reach more children in Bath. Their support is greatly valued. BL

Photograph © Simon Howe

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