In January 33 clubs attended the East Region 2017 Quality Mark Awards evening to celebrate and recognise the good work going at clubs, notably the volunteers, coaches and many staff that year on year continue to develop and contribute to our game. Speaking on behalf of all the East Region Football Development staff, Club Development Manager Gavin Tinley noted the incredible passion and drive within some of the community clubs to develop the game at a local level, from growing the game to developing facility projects. The evening also provided an environment for clubs to network as well as discuss their experiences and best practice. To support bringing some of these stories to life the East Region developed some video case studies.
The growth within Community football clubs has been fantastic with key support going towards early years’ growth through the development of club soccer centres, and an agreed school to club mapping. This model allows a the club to develop a strong partnership with the schools, Active Schools and the local Football Development Officer developing a focal point for a coordinated approach to growing the game locally. Partnership working plays an important role for these big strong Quality Mark clubs in helping to understanding the needs and gaps to contribute to the Scottish Governments Active Scotland Framework. Since the introduction and implementation of Quality Mark 10 years ago the average size of an East Region QM club membership has increased from 37 to 128 members (players). Community and Legacy clubs are challenging us more and more as they continue to develop, becoming more like a social enterprise some of these clubs are delivering much more than football and significantly making an impact on areas from the Active Scotland Framework.
The type of work these community clubs are undertaking beyond the running of teams brings an approach where clubs invest in employing staff to deliver a number of social-focused programmes including para-football, employability programmes, dementia programmes, health & fitness projects, and many more. These clubs come around the table twice a year attending our regional Community & Legacy Workshops where we are able to share key information to continue to support and inspire club development with often selected community clubs presenting on a project they are delivering as best practice.
Their ability to provide for the community can however sometimes be restricted by their current facilities, rendering them unable to cope with increased demand. They aim to access the Developing Community Clubs resource to support in exploring and completing a Community Asset Transfer of the pitches or buildings they use as a home to accommodate their club. The Scottish FA have made great strides to supporting and improving facilities and within the East Region we have increased the number of 3G pitches from 6 to 45 over the past 10 years. We have a number of community clubs that are progressing or have completed community ownership of a 3G pitch or building. These projects aims to develop clubs into broader community assets, transcending the boundaries of football by delivering extensive benefits to the community.
Football for Life is the Scottish FA’s vision and this is documented in more detail within our One National Plan 2017-2020. Community clubs are playing a key role to contributing to our game achieving this along with a partnership approach.