In Association with Aviva Community Fund 2017
Did you know that last year the Aviva Community Fund awarded £1.7 million to over 450 community groups across the UK, allowing them to continue the great work they do for the local area? Now in its third year, the annual Aviva Community Fund will open to new submissions on 12th September and in celebration of this I want to tell you all about the Farlsey Celtic Girls FC who benefited from the Aviva Community Fund in 2016.
Farsley Celtic Girls FC are relative newcomers, having been started as an off-shoot from Farsley Celtic Ladies just a couple of years ago. Initially growth was slow with little interest and nobody able to make a real commitment to coaching. Shane Hamill, who had some experience of coaching girls’ football some 20 years previous in America, ended up taking on the team quite by accident. He explains how he was standing in the rain with his daughter one night waiting for someone to come and train them and this person never turned up, so rather than waste the session he set about training the girls himself with some basic drills. Now into his third year as Coach, Shane has been instrumental in the growth of Farsley Celtic Girls FC and with the help of a number of other committed parents who act as managers they now have five registered teams with enthusiastic, talented players aged from 6 to 13 years old.
The underlying theme of everything both Shane and the girls had to tell me was one of fun, of community and of friendship. Yes these girls want to be good at football and they clearly enjoy playing it (training twice a week and then playing a match each Saturday or Sunday) but it’s clear that the main purpose of being on the team is to have fun. Being part of the team gives the girls a focus, it gives them a safe environment to see their friends and it helps them to develop a sense of responsibility. Because the teammates have become such good friends, nobody wants to let the team down. The girls aren’t selfish players, this isn’t about glory for one person, this is about working together and succeeding as a team.
The girls proudly told me how they are in fact unbeaten this season (listing some fairly impressive scorelines). I asked them how they would feel if their unbeaten record was broken and was impressed by their explanation that it wouldn’t matter, obviously they wouldn’t be pleased but it would just make them want to win even more next time. These girls have the self-confidence to know that their worth as a team isn’t tied up in the wins or the losses but in how hard they try, and how much fun they have doing it.
Girls drop out of sport at a faster rate than boys and research has shown that, by the age of 14, only 1 in 10 girls are doing enough physical activity to benefit their health. Farsley Celtic Ladies U-12’s are helping to reverse these statistics in an area where access to football for girl’s teams is very limited compared to boys. The plan is that the youth teams will grow with the girls, adding in an Under 14s, and Under 15s right through to the girls being able to join the main Farsley Celtic Ladies team!
I asked Shane how he personally benefits from coaching the girls – his response was matter of fact but perfect, “Seeing the girls smile and having fun. Seeing the girls smile is all I need” . I think the world needs more people like Shane! He explained to me that in many ways he has become “one of the girls” and this means that the girls will often confide in him about things they are struggling with outside of football giving him the chance to help and support them in a safe and informal environment. In his role as coach, Shane sees it as his job to ensure the girls feel good about themselves and that they are encouraged to express themselves – something I absolutely want for my own girls!
As soon as I asked the girls about their new kit (funded by the Aviva Community Fund), it was clear that they were absolutely fizzing with excitement over it – apparently the old one “was a bit rubbish and didn’t even have badges on” but wearing the new kit, with its matching tracksuits and water bottles clearly gives the girls an added sense of professionalism, of belonging.
On Saturday 23rd September The Farsley Celtic Girls FC turned out to Albion Street to mark the launch of the Aviva Community Fund 2017. The event allowed the public to see the positive impact the football club is having for girls in the community interested in sport and demonstrate how small things, like a football, can make a huge difference to local communities.
DO YOU KNOW A LOCAL PROJECT THAT NEEDS FUNDING?
For local projects, small things can make a big difference, but funding may be a challenge. That’s where the Aviva Community Fund 2017 comes in, supporting good ideas making a real difference where it matters most.
Aviva is offering four funding levels, from up to £1,000 to £25,000. To apply for funding, just tell Aviva how your project will make a positive change in one of these categories:
* Health and wellbeing
* Skills for life
* Community support
You’ll need votes to get your project to the finals, so start rallying friends, family and neighbours now! However, Aviva knows how much work it can take for volunteers in smaller projects to pull their entries together and rally voters.
Most smaller projects ask for funding up to £1,000, so to recognise all their hard work, Aviva will automatically give the first 200 projects to reach 1,000 votes in this funding level the funding they ask for. If you’re one of the lucky 200 projects, Aviva will let you know. If you’re not one of those 200 projects, you’re still in with a chance of winning your funding.
To get involved, submit a project or vote visit www.aviva.co.uk/community-fund. Entries opened on 12th September, closing dates for entries on 10th October 2017.