Alongside the exciting action we’ve seen on the pitch this season, there has been some impressive work carried out away from the pitch by the Burnley FC first team. Over the course of the season, the team of Clarets stars have clocked up an incredible 231 player appearances across East Lancashire.
Holding true to the ethos of our ‘one club’ mentality, the players have made it their priority to support the work of Burnley FC in the Community and take the time to find out about the work the charity is carrying out across the region.
Leading by example has been Skipper Tom Heaton, who was recently awarded Burnley FC’s PFA Community Champion Award for the season. Tom made the greatest number of appearances during the 16/17 season, followed closely by Michael Keane. Over 20 appearances were also clocked up by just three players collectively – George Boyd, Jeff Hendrick and Sam Vokes.
It was Sam who kicked off the season of visits back in September when he popped along to Community’s brand new education hub, UCFB Burnley, to find out how young people are now benefitting from the fantastic facilities now available at the Turf Moor stadium.
Sam then went on, alongside teammates including Michael Keane, Jeff Hendrick and Robbie Brady, to visit Community’s Soccer Schools in Burnley, Pendle and Rossedale. The Soccer Schools aim to offer fun, football-based activities during school holidays and the players popping in for a kickabout always makes for a memorable afternoon for the young children!
Several players also lent their time to supporting Community’s Premier League Enterprise programme – an innovative, entrepreneurial initiative that uses the tool of football to engage with pupils in Year 9 who are struggling with their Maths and English studies. To demonstrate to the young pupils just how valuable this learning is, players including Ashley Barnes, Dan Agyei and Matt Lowton visited local schools such as Blessed Trinity to congratulate the students on completing the course, to hand out certificates and chat about their own time at school.
This was also the season that Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson was appointed the ambassador of our Turf Works employability programme – a programme that looks to engage young people who are not involved in education, training or employment and help them progress onto volunteering or employment. And Jóhann is not the only player ambassador of a project; Sam Vokes remains Community’s NCS ambassador and George Boyd the health ambassador. Several players also helped the Community team to produce an important video this season, raising awareness for mental health issues and signposting fans to services who can help.
As well as project-based support, the players also worked to help Community with its fundraising efforts for the season. Manager Sean Dyche hosted a Q&A at Burnley FC in the Community’s inaugural Charity Dinner that went on to raise £25k, as well as backing the Community Day efforts that eventually raised over £13k for both Community and Pendleside Hospice.
Neil Hart, Chief Executive Officer of Burnley FC in the Community said: “We are delighted that so many members of the first team have managed to get out into the community this season and support the work of our charity. Burnley FC is so important to the people of this town and to have the players come and be part of that – above and beyond a matchday – is priceless. I can’t thank Sean and the players enough for backing what we do. I think you’d struggle to find a team more ingrained in its community that Burnley FC and that’s something to be so proud of.”
You can read about all the many player appearances this season at www.burnleyfccommunity.org