With December upon us, we’ve started looking back at 2018 and the work that we have been doing over the past 12 months.
One of the most critical areas of our work is assisting members to give back to their communities. ‘Giving back’ means different things for different members, and our Community department works to help our members support as many causes as possible.
In April 2018, we announced the winners of our 2017/18 PFA Player In The Community Award. Here, we take a look at our winners and the great efforts they have made to give back to causes close to their hearts.
Joe Bryan, Bristol City
Championship PFA Player In The Community 2017/18
Joe has been a strong supporter of the Bristol City Community Trust (BCCT), contributing his time to player appearances at holiday camps. He has also maintained his role as an ambassador for Children’s Hospice South West for a second year running.
What really set him apart though, was his personal initiative to fund two great causes; a self-employed amateur footballer’s physiotherapy following a severe injury, and a grassroots football club that had their pitches vandalised.
When asked about the assistance he provided to the non-league player, Joe stated,
‘I saw it on Twitter, and I’d had a leg break. Mine was nowhere near as bad, and I had support from a highly professional physio department. He was self-employed and didn’t have that at his disposal, so I thought, “I’m in a position to help him, so why not?” It’s human nature to help your fellow man.’
Matty Blair, Doncaster Rovers
League One PFA Player In The Community 2017/18
Following the heartbreak of his brother’s death, Matty Blair bravely channelled his grief into schemes supporting others in overcoming mental health challenges.
Matty fronted the club’s mental health charity partnership with CALM – the Campaign Against Living Miserably. The charity works to prevent male suicides, the single biggest killer of men under 45.
A regular at school visits and club community activities, Matty also supports Doncaster Rovers’ walking football and Fit Rovers programmes.
On giving back, he says, ‘I say it to our lads all the time; we have a responsibility – whether we like it or not – to go and express ourselves in the community of the football club we are working for.
‘You hold yourself well and have a good mindset because people are looking up to you. That’s why it’s important to be the best person you can be – hopefully that rubs off on them.’
Liam O’Neil, Cambridge United
League Two PFA Player In The Community 2017/18
Liam has offered significant support to the Cambridge United Community Trust and has contributed his time to a wide range of community activities, working tirelessly to support the people of Cambridge.
Partnering with a match report writing program delivered to local primary schools,
Liam encouraged children to develop an interest in writing.
A strong advocate for Cambridge United’s mental health project, Liam has contributed video content for secondary schools. On this, he says, ‘I’ve been able to help with mental health, which is a really important thing in this day and age. And also, I’ve helped people with learning disabilities – that has been a great eye-opener and put life into perspective a bit. We don’t realise how lucky we are.’
The PFA works with players like Joe, Matty, and Liam to assist them in helping support their communities. We believe that members are privileged to play the beautiful game and to connect with the club’s fanbase. By encouraging community projects, they also strengthen the support the club receives locally.
If you are interested in getting involved with your community, contact our Community Department to find out how we can help: 0161 236 0637.