Dagenham & Redbridge versus Yeovil 20th
During the long days of lockdown, furlough and all the other associated problems linked to COVID, the Dagenham and Redbridge FC Community Trust went into total hibernation. On several occasions, it awoke as the restrictions were slightly eased allowing the Trust and its staff to engage with many local young children offering them an opportunity to get out of the house, run around and exercise, meet with, talk to and engage with other youngsters to simply have fun.
Those sessions, held at May and Bakers Sports Club provided unforgettable and heart-warming memories for all involved including not only the children, but also the coaches, soldiers, police officers and parents.
Just when things looked to be picking up the restrictions returned. Trust staff were unable to lead clubs in local schools for over a year, the regular Premier League Kicks programme did not fully return until over 12 months after it first stopped and hundreds of children in the Borough were denied the opportunity to exercise, develop skills and understanding, meet with friends and just have fun.
As the Trust Manager, I often wondered when we would return to any form of normality and get back out into the local area putting smiles on young faces. The turning point was probably Easter 2021 and since then Trust Staff have returned to working in schools where they teach PE, run lunchtime and after school clubs on a regular basis. The Premier League Kicks sessions have returned on a regular basis and the number of PL Kicks “Girls Only” sessions have grown significantly in recent months. This London United project, funded by the London Marathon Charitable Trust has been informed that further funding will be provided to all. The professional football club charitable organisations (CCOs) who make up London United will receive further funding to continue this provision up to July next year at the very least.
Approaches have been made to the Trust recently by the NHS, the Romford YMCA, The Future Youth Zone, the EFL Trust, several schools and a local Walking Football Club to deliver activities next year. Several people have shown interest in becoming trustees or join a new voluntary advisory group. Things are looking up as the Trust moves into 2022, moving onward and upward.
A big ‘Thank You’ to the Dagenham United Guard of Honour, all the teachers, parents, schoolchildren, local junior grassroots football club coaches and players for their fantastic support from the SD Samuels Stand last Monday. What an atmosphere you created, pity the result didn’t match the effort and enthusiasm both on and off the pitch. We hope you all had a great evening and look forward to seeing you again soon.
Last Monday provided a unique opportunity for one of the Trust’s new employees to work with the near 100 ITV employees who were here to broadcast our live FA Cup game versus Salford. Omar is a media graduate, lives locally and joined the Trust staff through the Government’s ‘Kickstart’ scheme at the end of October. Omar worked as a ‘runner’ for over 12 hours, mounting up over 22,000 steps throughout that time. Omar is one of three new ‘Kickstart’ employees who have settled into working at the Trust. Matthew is the Admin Assistant based in the Trust office at the Club and Jayke is a qualified coach who is working in local schools and with PL Kicks groups throughout the week. You may see Omar and Matthew running the penalty shoot-out competition outside the clubhouse today before the game.
Today we welcome the players, coaches and parents from Leaside Colts Under 11s as our Matchday Guard of Honour. The club is based in Hornchurch and provides opportunities for local youngsters to enjoy competitive grassroots football. We hope they have a memorable and enjoyable experience at the Chigwell Construction Stadium.
Dagenham & Redbridge
versus Eastleigh 23rd
Only last week I took part in yet another online meeting. This one should have been ‘Teams’ but at last minute was changed to ‘Zoom’. It was a feedback meeting about a recent survey which was set up for young girls who had taken part in activities run across London by all the professional football clubs during the last couple of years.
I’m not sure we were given much feedback during the 90 minute long session and I turned off when we went off into the first of several “Break up rooms’ to answer poorly thought out questions in a too limited time window.
The first question asked us to imagine what our typical participant looked like. My mind immediately began to wander. Partly because I had no idea what any of our participants look like as I don’t deliver the activity, and partly because I was taught a long time ago that nobody is average or typical.
I tend to watch too many BBC QI programmes, including repeats, and I believe I heard Stephen Fry tell a story recently about the ‘Average Australian’. In 2015, someone undertook a survey to find the answer. They used the information from the latest census and came to the following conclusions”
The average Australian is 37 and a woman. She has a son and a daughter, aged 6 and 9. She lives in a three bedroomed detached house, has $200,000 left on their mortgage, are 5’ 4” tall, weigh 71.1 Kilos and are slightly overweight. Their family came from Britain at some point, but their parents were born in Australia.
When they tried to find the Average Australian, they discovered that no such person existed. Everyone is different, even identical twins. More importantly no one is typical or average. Whichever units of measurement, or labels, or boxes, you use, we all have similarities, and we all have our differences.
The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham is one of the most diverse areas of the UK. The population pre-COVID was growing exponentially. With the lowest house prices in London it attracts people from all over the country and all over the World. There is no better place to observe the benefits of this diversity than in the local schools. Trust coaches work in schools every week, either teaching curriculum PE or running lunchtime and after school clubs. They work with boys and girls aged 8-18 as part of the PL Kicks project and many more during the school holiday camps. The key performance Indicator of the Trust is, to put smiles on faces, to treat young people as individuals and get them to step out of their comfort zones, to work independently but also part of a team, to empathise, sympathise and respect one another. Every child is different and should be allowed to develop their own potential and helped to recognise their individual strengths and weaknesses, not be forced into stereotypical tick boxes. Celebrate diversity – don’t complain about it.
Daggers Celebrate Diversity Day, Saturday 29th January. Vanarama National League Daggers versus Halifax Town kick off 3pm.