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children aged between nine and 10 are at an optimum age to receive informa- tion about what they should be eating, ahead of their entry into high school when they will have more freedom over their meal choices,” explains Kimpton. “Over five weeks, we provide one hour of classroom-based learning each week, looking at subjects like healthy eating, food groups, the psychological rea- sons that determine our food choices, physical activity and a tasting. This is followed by one hour of football-based fitness and movement. “We find the classroom session on

physical activity is always one of the most popular. I’ve just returned from one where we had all the kids do a Gangnam-Style dance, after which we took their pulses and discussed how their heart, blood and muscle groups would be reacting to the exercise.” In the last academic year, 86 schools

took part, with over 3,000 Manchester children enrolled in the Strike a Balance programme. Based on questionnaires provided before and after the five weeks, CITC found that 91 per cent of participants understood how much physical activity they should undertake, with 78 per cent achieving one hour or more of activity using large mus- cle groups every day. A total of 83 per cent were still able to recognise a bal- anced diet five weeks after programme completion. CITC football coaches, all with RSPH Awards in Healthier Food and Special Diets, run the project – but is it undoubtedly appearances by player am- bassadors such as Joe Hart and Gareth Barry which have helped give Strike a Balance a profile in the community. “We would like to be seen as a

Appearances by Manchester City players like Gareth Barry boost the profile of community initiatives

community role model, rather than just a money-making football club,” Kimp- ton says. “We achieve this by working to make a real difference to issues like childhood obesity.”

TOWN IN THE COMMUNITY Huddersfield Town’s Football in the Community department – funded mostly by the club, but with some support given by central bodies such as the Football League Trust – delivers fitness tips to hundreds of local youngsters through its soccer schools. Mental health is also on the agenda, with the community team using some league games to raise the profile of illnesses such as dementia among adult supporters. Since Huddersfield Town’s training ground, Canalside Sports Complex, is open to the public, the local communi- ty also has access to an on-site football pitches, dance studio, bowling, croquet and hockey clubs and gym at competitive prices. The team’s technical and playing staff are regularly recruited to spread the word about the football club’s activ- ity-related community work. Making local headlines of late has been Huddersfield Town’s Keep It Up campaign, a fundraising scheme that jointly and evenly benefits the Huddersfield Town Acad- emy and local charity the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Huddersfield Town’s ‘Pedal for Pounds’ cycling events pro- mote physical activity while also raising money for charity

Reaching out to the community, espe- cially supporters, the campaign has seen large-scale sponsored walks and cycling events organised to raise an impressive £720,000 in the last three years. While the main motivating factor is

the chance for fans to come together before a Championship game and make a genuine difference, Huddersfield Town also furnishes participants with health and training advice ahead of the flagship ‘Walk for Pounds’ and ‘Pedal for Pounds’ community events, which have a heavy emphasis on the promotion of the ben- efits of physical activity. The latest walk, which took place in

November 2012 and which garnered sup- port from a growing set of businesses, saw the football club’s chair Dean Hoyle and commercial director Sean Jarvis lead 175 fans across a 19-mile route to a game in Barnsley. Even more strenuous was the latest flagship cycle, in which 300 fans made the three- to four-day bike journey from Huddersfield to Yeovil in time for another match. It’s the overwhelming response to these, and other grassroots fundraising initiatives, that led to Hoyle setting up a registered charity in sum- mer 2012. Charged with the mission of ‘making a difference’ in the West York- shire region, especially among young people who were in need, the Hudder- sfield Town Foundation has kicked off proceedings by initiating five breakfast clubs at junior schools, so that 250 kids from deprived backgrounds receive a nu- tritious and healthy start to the day. Such is the commitment to the foun-

dation that Huddersfield Town will double every pound generated by fund- raising projects, enabling more Early Kick-Off breakfast clubs to be launched throughout 2013. ●

26 Read Sports Management online Issue 1 2013 © cybertrek 2013

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