On Sunday 16th July, Colchester United FC hosted their annual open day at the JobServe Community Stadium. For Colchester United Community Foundation (CUCF), this was an opportunity to connect with people from the local area and share information about how they can get involved in programmes, which may benefit their physical and mental health.
The weather on Sunday was windy, so we adapted and based our Community Foundation Hub in the South stand, where we could still offer children the chance to safely go on the bungee inflatable. The day kicked off with the first team training session on the pitch, which drew in a crowd. Our coaches ran some pan-disability football sessions in the morning to highlight our free term time and holiday sessions that are available to adults and children alike. After the watching the first team, the astro pitches were full to the brim with girls and boys wanting to get involved in training sessions. Many parents then came to see our team afterwards looking for ways to get their young people engaged in playing football regularly. Our favourite comment on social media at the end of the day was from a local parent who told us, " Thank you so much for making football more accessible, my boy has had a wonderful day!!"
During the afternoon our delivery staff provided boys and girls with more opportunities to play football and learn new skills. We tried our best to give everyone who was waiting a turn. We will be planning more sessions for next time as this was a popular offering and one that we want to engage as many people in as possible.
Niamh Gamble, CUCF’s Women and Girls Development Officer was invited to answer questions as part of a Q&A with Colchester United Chairman, Robbie Cowling. Niamh was delighted to share developments for female players over the last few years and of course the return of a Colchester United Women’s Team, “We are really excited to get the season going with our first Women’s Team in 10 years.” There was a real buzz around the female game on Sunday and many girls were keen to speak with Niamh to find out how they can get involved.
In line with our strategy, to inspire, enrich and unite our communities, by far the most important part of the day for us, was to hear what our community want and need. As the charity arm of Colchester United FC, we strive to make sport accessible for all and it is a testament to programmes like Senior U’s, a free activity and social club for people over sixty, to see participants on a day like Sunday getting involved and socialising. Current members came to see us at the CUCF hub and many new faces were keen to sign up. Similarly, our pan-disability football, skills centres and summer holiday programmes saw huge interest. Local father Andy and his family, pictured below, told us that, “The kids really loved the day event, it was their first visit to a proper football stadium.”
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