A New Era for Football in the Community

Alan Young wasn’t the first, nor the last, Notts centre forward who became a big favourite with the fans after signing from Brighton in 1984.

But when opportunity next knocked on Alan’s door in 1989, his playing days over, it was to receive an offer, which he accepted, to head up a new body at Meadow Lane, known to this day as Football in the Community.

That is now about to be subject to a dramatic rebranding, following a decision by the Board of Trustees – among whom I’m the longest serving – and hours of gallant work by members of staff.

We shall all need to get used to the new title – the Notts County Foundation.

It more specifically expresses the present-day hopes and ambitions of a successful operation which has undergone a remarkable transformation in the 31 years since its formation.

Whoever thought then – certainly not me! – that it would become one of Nottinghamshire’s leading charities to specialise successfully in issues as vital and wide ranging as mental health, weight management and youth employment.

Admittedly, there are still those who imagine it’s barely changed at all and that its principal activity is still organising games of football to keep teenagers off our streets and potentially out of trouble. If you’re one of them you need to get up to speed!

The spectacular changes to the syllabus were carefully handled, partly to avoid an impression of a revolution. It’s been an evolution and all the better for it.

By far the biggest single change was to take over from the City Council, its former owners, the Portland Leisure Centre, handily situated close to the County ground. It has given the organisation something it previously lacked – its own headquarters – at which to run many of the activities dominating its timetable. A worthy addition to our resources but one not decided without immense care and much careful discussion.

It was the brainchild of the-then chief executive of Football in the Community, Steve Hill, who deserves immense credit for his foresight in the first place and then his determination to bring it to a happy conclusion.

Steve was previously the deputy to Graham Moran, who after a successful stint at Notts moved to occupy, as he does to this day, a similar role in Forest’s community set-up.

At the same time as taking over management of Portland was on the Trustees’ agenda we were navigated through some difficult waters by our-then chairman, Richard Posner, a Nottingham solicitor – as well as being a Notts fan, of course!

Now another new era has arrived and the line-up of future events looks extremely tasty, none more in my opinion than Nott Lonely This Winter, helping to tackle loneliness and isolation, both of them social curses in our present-day society.

One of its objectives will be to direct important practical support such as clothing to individuals and families who are in desperate need of such basic requirements.

The present chief executive, Ian Boyd, sums it up perfectly: “I am very excited as we approach launch day, heralding the fresh approach we are going to take over the coming months and years.”

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