A catch up with Andy Yates - Community Officer

Sport is very social. It encourages people to get active, in ways that aren’t always physical. It gets our brains moving, as well as our bodies. It covers so many different elements. A lot of people can be set up for life with the help of sport.

It’s a way to make people proud of this town.

That’s what I’ve tried to step in and do. I’ve felt this way ever since I went to my first Weymouth game in 2017. The atmosphere, the buzz around the club, the people. I just thought it was a really nice club.

But, I was wondering just how much people knew about Weymouth Football Club.

All they could really talk to me about is the first team. They couldn’t really tell me anything about the women’s team, the youth team, the under-23s, or about anything in the community at all. With my expertise, working in development centres with younger players, I felt it was my job to show people that there’s more to this football club than the first team.

Luckily, Craig Adams, who’d already asked me to be his assistant for the under-23s, spoke to me about what I could do to help the community, before introducing me to Ralph Ricardo. Since starting my journey at this club last year, I’d already used my connections at Weymouth College to bring through young players, typically between 16-19. This allowed us to strengthen our team.

But, since becoming our Community Officer, I’ve aimed to achieve much more than just that.

I want people to have the opportunity to go to sessions. I want us to make football as affordable as possible, so that everyone can be involved. I want people to be proud of what we can offer. I want people in the community to say: this is what Weymouth Football Club can do for me. Football can be very expensive, be it through buying football boots, the latest shirts, season tickets, match day tickets, and so on. But, together we can make it inclusive.

Inclusive. That’s the biggest word.

It’s about breaking down those barriers to make everything accessible for everyone.

Hopefully we’ll be able to offer things like match day tickets for certain groups, signed merchandise from the first team, tours of the ground, and meet and greet sessions with the players. Thanks to the support and hard work of Finley Jarvis and Bianca Osborne, we already have a number of successful sessions running throughout the community, and there will be plenty more to come.

We’ve already managed to get Tom Bearwish on board. He’s gone into a few schools to get children interested in reading. He’s also visited the Entitled People’s Camp, and worked with people, from three-years-old to adults, and encouraged them to play sport, stay fit and have fun. It’s really important to have role models like Tom helping us.

It’s also crucial for us to offer support to the people of Weymouth.

Which is what we’re doing, one of those ways being in the form of our “Kids-4-A-Quid” scheme, which allows children to come and watch a game for just one pound.

Our aim to get more children outdoors doesn’t stop there either. We’re starting to offer out development centres, which will allow any grassroots club or player to come to us. They can come every week to improve themselves as players. But, this isn’t just for people who are already part of a club. Anyone can come along and get involved with our training sessions. There’s so many opportunities that the football club can give to people.

It doesn’t have to be through just football.

It could be that we’re giving people a warm place to go and charge their phone, or that we’re helping supporters with their shopping. We could be a place where people collect clothing items and football boots; anything that people might need to support the local area. There are many people in Weymouth who are in need, so the more volunteering people can do, the more support people can have. We can help all people, children and adults, be successful in the future.

Article by
Jack Webb

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