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‘More than a club’ isn’t just an expression found at the Camp Nou in Barcelona. This is the mantra which runs through one of the finest run community clubs in Scotland – Broxburn United Sports Club in West Lothian.
Their claim to be one of the best is legitimate. They have been one of the first clubs to be awarded the Scottish FA’s highest grassroots honour, that of ‘Legacy Level’ in the Quality Mark Accreditation scheme.
This is the award given when a club displays a vast array of services for the benefit of the community it resides in.
Broxburn has a soccer school, a fitness through football programme, walking football for over 60s,a boxing club, physiotherapy and teams from youth all the way up to Junior level.
Youth development officer for the club Greig Taylor has been in post since last December and, having worked previously as a coach for the Scottish FA, understands what it means to receive the Legacy level.
He said: “It was a proud moment for the club to receive the award.
“We had put in a lot of hard work over the years. We do a lot of good work in community. It was a sense of reward. To be the first club in West Lothian to get this award is superb, it is great kudos for the club.”
Secretary of the club Alan Cunningham was equally full of praise for the new status.
He said: “It means everything to the club. We have worked very hard over the years to bring our coaches up to the necessary standard. The Legacy status shows that we are doing the right things on the park and for the community.”
Football clubs across Scotland are beginning to recognise the benefits they can bring to their community beyond playing the game.
The Albyn Park facility opened its doors in 2010 following an amalgamation of other teams in the area.
Funding has been sourced from a variety of trusts with staffing coming from volunteers and two full-time coaches.
Local police have noted a 35% drop in anti-social behaviour in the town since the club formed. Young people are playing sport and socialising in a healthy environment.
The club is also offering opportunities for teenagers with difficulties at school to go and earn work experience to teach them employability skills.
Greig said: “We maybe don’t play like Barcelona but we do see ourselves as more than a football club.
“We are here to help improve the lives of people in the area.”
The Scottish FA’s South East Region assisted the club in its application for the award.
David Sheldon, club development manager for the region, said Broxburn epitomised what being a community club was all about.
He added: “With the motivated individuals they have driving the club forward it is no surprise they are one of the leading clubs in Scotland for community programmes and I have no doubt they will continue to grow, develop and lead in innovative programmes for many years to come."
This is not a club to sit back and rest on its laurels. Greig said it hoped other clubs across the country could learn from the Broxburn experience and develop their community projects.
He added: “Having the Legacy status means clubs can trust us. We have a structure which works. We’re not arrogant in that we want to keep this system to ourselves. We want to share our ideas and help the game grow across the country.”
With the regional and national 2013 Grassroots Awards coming up later this year, Greig hoped there would be someone out there who would nominate the club for the Best Community Club award.
He said: “The Grassroots Awards are one of the highlights of the year. It would be great for us to be nominated. I hope there is someone out there who will!”
To nominate, click HERE.