It’s not called the beautiful game for nothing … Reading FC’s work in the community is something that’s worth celebrating. And that’s exactly what happened when the club held a special end of season showcase event last month.
The Reading FC Community Trust represents the club within the local and surrounding communities, acting as an extension of the club to engage with local people and make a genuine impact on their lives.
At its core, The Trust is a partnership between the club and local bodies including Thames Valley Police and schools. Work includes soccer schools, after school clubs, social inclusion projects such as street dance, the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and The Prince’s Trust.
It also aims to help young people find employment, offering academic football scholarships and help with football coaching qualifications.
The Trust is headed up by Dave Evans, who also led the celebratory presentation at the Madejski Stadium on the evening of Wednesday, May 29.
One of the speakers was club chairman, Sir John Madejski, who shared his pride of the work that the trust does in the local community and how it helps transform lives.
“The Trust helps people engage with sport; Dave Evans and his team have put in such a lot of effort into this,” he told the assembled audience which included local MPs Alok Sharma and Dr Phillip Lee.
“It’s such a positive programme,” he added.
Dave said: “This is the biggest secret of Reading Football Club. The evening demonstrated what we do in the community.”
In just over an hour, the evening included a testimony from Leah Beal. Before joining Reading FC’s Kickz programme, she had struggled with school and been expelled twice for bad behaviour.
Fast forward three years, and she is now an ambassador for the programme.
“It’s what we’re all about … working with young people,” Dave said. “We’re really passionate about it.”
The Trust also works with young offenders and offers help for people wanting to get their Level One Coaching Programme badge. Reading FC players often drop in on the activities, including the soccer schools.
Departing Royals player Noel Hunt was praised for his work at the club and in the community over the past five years.
“He’s been an absolute star,” David said of the player, while presenting him with a thank you gift. “He’s taken time to speak with [young] people and taken part in competitions with them.
“Thank you Noel and all the best for the future.”
And the work that the Trust has been doing among the Berkshire community is appreciated by Thames Valley Police.
“It’s broken down one or two barriers and led to improved behaviour,” said Inspector Lindsay James, who patrols the Whitley and Church Ward areas of Reading.
The evening also included an exhibition area, showcasing work carried out by the trust, and a dance demonstration by members of the West Reading Kickz.
For more details on the Trust’s work, which is a registered charity, click here.
Pictures in our gallery have been taken by Lynda Bowyer.