Participation in football adds £95m of value to Aberdeen City region

Liz Bowie, AFCCT chief executive

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ABERDEEN FC Community Trust is helping to add £95m of value to the region – according to its 2019/20 Impact Report published today.

Aberdeen Football Club’s charity partner reveals that participation in football and football-related activities across the North-east directly contributes £16.3million to the regional economy.

Almost £13m of social benefits and £66.3m of healthcare savings are derived from the 71,000 participants involved in the sport and its related programmes in the region.

The report reflects on the Trust’s achievements over the past two years and sets out its ambition to expand its support to communities, particularly young people, across the region.

Between July 2019 to March 2020, AFCCT provided 7,540 meals for young people, tackling food poverty at their place of education and in the community during school holidays.

The hugely successful initiatives include breakfast clubs; FootyTea after school clubs which combine homecooked meals with physical activity; GoFitba, which enables access to free football and healthy meals; and Food & Fun, which provides breakfast and lunch for young people on free school meals during the holidays.

Liz Bowie, AFCCT chief executive, said: “Our latest Impact Report shows that AFCCT has had a marked effect on our communities, helping to deliver significant socio-economic benefits but, more importantly, influencing positive change that transforms lives.

“Since 2014 the Trust, working with our partners, has helped dramatically improve the health and wellbeing of more than a million people across Aberdeen City and Shire, leading to increased attainment and major savings in healthcare services. 

“As we emerge from lockdown once more, we’ll be ramping up our work with young people. Helping to tackle mental health challenges is a top priority for us.”

The Trust delivers programmes and activities across three pillars – Football for Life, Healthy Communities and Education.

Among them is the MINDSET programme for 11 to 13-year-olds, which addresses mental health through play-based learning. Delivered in partnership with US-based not-for-profit organisation, Grassroot Soccer, the scheme brings mental health promotion into schools with the aim of improving the mental wellbeing of young people, teaching skills to cope with stress and breaking down stigmas around mental health.

The Trust’s base at AFC’s training facility at Cormack Park is now home to AFC Women, AFC Youth Academy and north-east community football.

The report reveals 15 grassroots clubs used the new pitches in the first three months – generating revenue of £13,000 for the charity – and 6,000 hours of hire time have been made available for community use every year.

Using a shared passion for football as a starting point, AFCCT works with 23 partner schools raising the aspirations of 8,300 targeted pupils as part of efforts to close the poverty-related attainment gap.

The Trust also collaborates with the University of Aberdeen’s Business School to widen access to further education for pupils, supporting youth development and career opportunities in the community as well as offering entrepreneurial workshops to develop skills in business, marketing, economic, numeracy and literacy.

Ms Bowie added: “The unprecedented disruption as a result of the pandemic has had a considerable impact on the support that has been needed over the past year.

“The swift response from both the Club and the Trust to the initial lockdown and the prolonged restrictions which followed, through its #StillStandingFree campaign, demonstrated what can be achieved by working together, along with the support of the Red Army.

“The passion for AFC and the power of football give us a unique approach which fosters engagement and enthusiasm in our participants.”

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