Local community heroes will be celebrated up and down the country from Friday 12 January to Saturday 20 January as the EFL, EFL Trust, 72 EFL Clubs and their Community Club Organisations launch the first-ever EFL Community Weekends.
Across the period, Clubs, managers and players will mark the incredible work that community staff and volunteers deliver 365 days per year, while participants from community programmes will be honoured by special visits from players and matchday activities.
As part of matchday activations, fans will get the chance to hear from participants that have had their lives changed or even saved by their Club’s community work and find out more details about the range of projects and ways to get involved.
At Saturday's game against Barrow we will be hosting a number of the volunteers that work in our Foundation programmes throughout the borough, and highlighting our walking football programme and the disability team. Fred Varndell, who organises the walking football for over 55s that takes place at Goals North Cheam on Wednesday mornings will be among the guests, while two of the coaches of our disability team, Paul Young and Paul Hayward, are coming along with a group of players and their families, 40 in all. The two Pauls are two of the four coaches who help run the disability section of over 50 players, the others being Jamie Arnold and James O'Carroll. Some members of the disability team will be taking part in the crossbar challenge at half time.
Ellie Radford, a teacher at Carew Manor SEN Academy in Wallington, who arranges her students' football enrichment sessions that we have coached at the school for the last five years in conjunction with Jamie Decruz Football School, has organised 35 of her students and their families, 95 in all, to come to the game and we have 40 girls and their parents from Harris Acadamy Merton, Wallington Girls and St. Philomenas, where our new coach has been providing after school sessions for the girls to have fun and take part in these football sessions. We have also provided 60 tickets fir the children who play at Onside Soccer, a church based charity providing low cost football sessions for local children.
In addition we are inviting supporters to please bring food donations to the match on Saturday as part of our ongoing partnership with Sutton Community Works. The collecting boxes will be set up near the fan zone, and any non-perishable foods will be greatly appreciated as we look to help Sutton Community Works tackle food poverty in Sutton at a time of year that is difficult for so many living without basic necessities.