Stones Schools Award
Updated: Jun 21, 2018
Wealdstone FC Community Trust has received official recognition from the National League Trust by winning the Best Schools Project Award for the 2017/18 season.
Some time ago The National League established a Trust to provide funds (made available by the English Premier League and the Professional Footballers’ Association) for its member clubs to set up their own charitable arms, or Trusts, in order to organise and run schemes aimed at benefiting their local communities. Following promotion to the National League South in 2014 we at Wealdstone formed our own Trust and successfully applied to the National League Trust for funds to pilot two community based schemes, Walking Football for the over-50s and Stones Soccer in schools. Under Trust rules 25% of the costs must be met by Wealdstone FC.
The Wealdstone FC Foundation Trust comprises three members, Nick Symmons, a supporter for 50 years and an ex-Chairman of the football club, Frank Funnell, a supporter for over 50 years with experience in both Trust operations and taking activities to schools in his previous employment with the Bank of England and Mick Fishman, again a supporter for over 50 years, and an ex-Secretary of the football club.
Stones Soccer in Schools initially ran as a 6 week pilot at St Bernadette’s RC school in Kenton. Targeted at year 3 pupils (7 and 8 year olds), the scheme links football and numeracy via 60 minute football skills/coaching sessions being complimented by 10 football themed numeracy lessons. While the activity sessions are run by coaches provided by the Community Trust, the numeracy package was devised by David O’Farrell, the Head Teacher at St Bernadettes, and his Deputy Head, Kevin Bassett. The numeracy element, which links to the National Curriculum, is run in the classroom by the Year 3 teachers. Following the success of the pilot the course has expanded into a number of additional schools in both Harrow and Hillingdon and has already reached more than 800 pupils.
The activity is proving to be hugely popular with teachers and children alike. The Trust has assiduously sought feedback from the teachers and pupils at the schools it has entered to run the activity, and it is fair to say that the responses have been universally positive. Most heartening has been some evidence that the project has assisted in improving numeracy skills and encouraged behavioural improvement amongst some pupils.
The activity coaches for much of the period for which the award was made were Eddie Oshodi, Nathan Mavila, Matty Wichelow and Omar Koroma, all of whom were then, or had recently been, Wealdstone players. Eddie, Nathan, Matty and Omar proved to be effective and popular coaches, and it is largely through their efforts that the Trust’s work has been so successful and now recognised through this award. Illustrative of how well the coaching was received, at both Aylward and Field End schools pupils presented the coaches with hand-made “thank you” cards.
The scheme is currently operating in two Ruislip based schools, Field End and Sacred Heart. The Trust is not resting on its laurels and is working to build on the success of the project by bringing on board Wealdstone legend, Gordon Bartlett, as Head Coach. Gordon has already “raised the bar” by bringing to the scheme his vast teaching and coaching knowledge built up over so many years. Omar is still involved and has now been joined by Dylan Kearney and Taofiq Olomowewe. Reaction from these school’s pupils and teachers has been fantastic, with the children writing individual letters of thanks to the coaches (3 examples are shown below) and teachers expressing views such as,
“coaching brilliant…..thanks for an amazing opportunity…all the class loved it…girls especially able to partake on equal terms and felt valued and able to participate fully.”
While reflecting on the award trustee Frank Funnell said:
“We are extremely proud to win this award, particularly as we are relatively new to this scheme only having joined the league 3 years ago. Many other clubs operate far larger Trusts built up over several years and have developed imaginative and effective community schemes. To have come out on top in this case is therefore extremely satisfying and it is very much down to the efforts of the coaches, heads and teachers at our partner schools that brought about this success.”
In winning this award the trustees wish to place on record their grateful thanks to David O’Farrell and all the other Head Teachers, and teachers, who have welcomed us into their schools and so enthusiastically embraced the project and what we are trying to achieve through it.
The trustees also wish to thank to the National League Trust, The Premier League and the Professional Footballers’ Association, all of whom have combined to provide the funds that have allowed clubs like Wealdstone to work within their local communities in order to benefit those in the community and to raise the profile of their clubs locally.