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Week of Football: The Power of Football

As the Week of Football continues, today will witness Scotland’s national game take pride of place in the Scottish Parliament, with a reception to discuss the Power of Football; the history of the game, its social impact on communities across Scotland and the incredible societal benefits it provides.

Our governing body (SFA) has invited its member clubs to express their views on how our “beautiful game” has evolved and at the same time highlight initiatives or projects in recent times that have benefitted both our football club and sections within the local community.

It would be fair to say that football is more than just a sport. It is a powerful force that can unite people, inspire passion, and create positive change in society. Despite been banned in 1421, football continued to be played by the common people, who used it as a form of entertainment and social bonding. Fast forward 600 years and not much has changed in that respect. However, through the years there is without doubt a shift in emphasis on the role and needs of the local community.

Football has a tremendous social impact on communities across Scotland. It provides opportunities for physical activity, mental health, education, social inclusion, and community engagement. Football clubs are often at the heart of their communities, offering support and services to people of all ages and backgrounds. Football also fosters a sense of belonging and pride among fans, who share a common bond and identity with their team. Football can also be a catalyst for social change, as it can raise awareness and funds for important causes, such as tackling poverty, racism, and discrimination.

Football is a formidable influence that shapes the society and the culture. Football reflects the history, the identity, the values, and the aspirations of the Scottish people. Football brings joy, excitement, and yes, raw emotion, but remains a stimulus to many Scots.

Both Clyde FC along with its charity arm, the CFC Community Foundation, have in the past decade demonstrated on countless occasions projects and programmes that covered just about every aspect alluded to in paragraph two of our comment above.

Before we focus on one particular highlight, the below is just some of achievements that have either directly or indirectly benefited others following good works from those associated with Clyde FC & The Community Foundation.

  • Routes to Work Programme – (Assisted people back to FT employment)
  • Foodbanks – Both in Collection and Distribution
  • Sporting Memories – Reminiscent Therapy for those suffering from Dementia
  • Festive Friends – Invitation to events to thwart those experiencing Social Isolation
  • Education Through Football Courses (as highlighted yesterday)
  • NHS partnership No Smoking Campaign
  • Suicide Awareness Partnership
  • Walking Football + FFIT (Football Fans in Training)
  • Shirt Sponsorship – Cash For Kids, Think Pink (Breast Cancer)
  • Show Racism the Red Card
  • Get Set Go initiative – Leadership development for Additional Support needs for 5–18-year-olds
  • Carbon Clyde Project – Environmental issues, recycling of old football kit and boots

The above have all been delivered with success, but perhaps none more so than this project. In what started as a pilot programme back in 2014, Get Onside, a ground-breaking community initiative involving Clyde FC, in partnership with Ceartas Advocacy, was a 9-week course that combined learning about introduction of Self-Directed Support and discussing what makes a good life for individuals who have used mental health services. Get Onside showed what big differences can be made with some small, simple steps, treating people with decency, thinking differently, and imagining better.  The pilot was such a success that many other clubs followed suit.

However, it was clear that after those short 9 weeks the participants were eager to build on this in what was for most initially a truly daunting experience. The Community Foundation sourced funding from the Greggs Foundation to continue similar projects for those experiencing mental health difficulties.

As a result, Clyde United was born. The participants decided to form a team, they turned up for coaching sessions with the group absolutely loving going to Broadwood on a Wednesday and pulling on the Clyde jersey, with the added bonus of playing on the main pitch every week. Now they needed to find a suitable league to play in, and by good fortune the SPFL Trust had just started the Scottish Health & Wellbeing Leagues, and into the Championship division they entered.

The lads featured live on Radio Clyde openly discussing their situations and how their involvement with Clyde FC and Foundation had brought them all on as individuals. They also had the delight to play against the MSPs in a friendly match at Broadwood.

The above events, however, don’t come close to their crowning achievement to date, as they won their Championship Division this season, as detailed on the website last October.  An absolute success story and one that both Clyde FC & Community Foundation can rightly be proud of.