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Watford FC male and female first-teamers launch new community football pitch

Watford FC midfielder Tom Cleverley recently opened a brand new all-weather football facility at The Hemel Hempstead School. The Premier League star was joined on the day by Watford Ladies FC player Charlotte Kerr. 

The full-size, floodlit pitch was funded by a grant of £461,877 from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, and will be the home of several community outreach programmes for Watford FC's Community Sports and Education Trust. England international Cleverley was delighted by his club's involvement: 

“We as a club are committed to improving and developing opportunities for people through football, and grassroots sport is at the core of this. I’m sure that the Trust’s involvement here will make a big difference.”

29 new teams will be created at the site, taking the total number of sides using the pitch to 80. This will include 11 new female sides, resulting in a 353% increase in local female football participation. Charlotte Kerr, who has been with Watford Ladies since she was 14-years-old, was excited at the prospect of more young girls' playing the game: 

“I wish I had had access to a facility like this whilst I was at school! I’m so pleased to hear that the new pitch will boost girls’ participation because getting more girls involved in football from a young age can have such a positive effect on their lives – I know it has for me.”

We would like to thank both Tom and Charlotte for giving up their time to support the local grassroots game. To see the photos from the day, check out our Flickr album. 
Kick It Out's national Raise Your Game conference is back for 2018, with the event taking place at the Emirates Stadium on Monday 16 April. Supported by the Premier League, the free mentoring event gives individuals aspiring to work in the football sector the chance to network within the football industry and gain key knowledge from professionals across several aspects of the game. 

Insight will be given into areas including Media and Communications, Grassroots and Community, Coaching and Management, Football Business and Administration, Player Services, Sport Science and Refereeing. The conference forms part of Kick It Out’s Raise Your Game series, which aims to diversify the game’s workforce, and previous speaker at the event have included Ivan Gazidis, Chief Executive of Arsenal FC, Greg Clarke, Chairman of The FA and England Women’s forward Leanne Sanderson,

For more information about the conference, please email To register for the event, visit
Gordon Taylor OBE, Chief Executive of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), has a long-established career at the top of our national game. Following his 18-year playing career, Gordon became the Chief Executive of the PFA in 1981. We caught up with him to ask about his time with the Association, his proudest moments, and the Association's plans moving forward:   

Q: Having been PFA CEO for 37 years now, what stands out as the major changes in the game from a player’s point of view in that time?
The most dramatic change has been the evolution of the status of professional players and the role and influence of their Association – the PFA. Facing up to the traumas and tragedies of the '80’s with the game at its nadir and implementing the Lord Justice Taylor Report with All Seater Stadiums, closed circuit cameras, improved stewarding and policing and particularly football accepting its Corporate Social Responsibility.  

The ‘Football Creditor’ rule protecting players contracts since that decade of problems. The Play-Offs, back pass rule and three points for a win, helping the game’s attraction as the Premier League evolved with satellite television. Our game becoming the most cosmopolitan and diverse game in the whole football world, the most successful, commercially evidenced by television income and the survival of the Football League, the strongest football country in the world with the highest aggregate attendances, the most full-time clubs and full-time players.       
Q: Which PFA achievement are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the role the PFA has played in changing the conditions and rights of professional players in all leagues, both at home and abroad, through our role in the World Players’ Union FIFPro. Our role in the multi-cultural nature of our game showing that sport in general and football in particular can work together in harmony overcoming any barriers of race, religion, politics, culture or creed. Our Community Programme since 1986, our role in embracing and developing women’s football since 2005. Our work on mental health, heart screening and head injuries have also led the way for the game and its duty of care to its players.
Q: The PFA have long-championed the idea of professional clubs having a large community impact. How important is that for the modern game?
The PFA began our Football in the Community Programme with the Football League as a response to the trouble of the '80’s, with six pilot clubs in the North West, and now of course it is nationwide and unique in the world. Players agree to give six hours a week and last season there were a total of 40,000 visits by players interacting with local communities, be this hospitals, schools, charities, health, education, inclusion, equalities, disabled and elderly and many players have established their own charitable foundations. Our CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) with the Football League, and subsequently with the Premier League and Richard Scudamore, enables us to work together with an excellent relationship on such issues and I believe no other profession can match football for the percentage amount of income that we put into good causes and grassroots.    
Q: What do you think are the top five attributes that make a footballer a great professional?
Dedication, resilience, a natural level of skill, determination and a desire to improve with every game. Also a magic ingredient almost impossible to describe, something special inside that makes the player succeed – a kind of self-belief and conviction he or she will make it!   

Q: Which traits are transferable between playing and the kind of executive role you now carry out?
My role as leader of the Players Union has needed many skill sets, not least an understanding of the needs of players on and off the pitch, and what I learnt playing football has always stood me in good stead. I am responsible for a team and I depend on every member of that team working with me to be successful. It is my job to ensure that all my staff, trustees, management committee and members feel part of our process of improvement and know they are valued for all the help and support they give me, and above all, enjoy their roles. Together Everyone Achieves More! (TEAM)
Q: Have you an anecdote from your own playing days you can share?
There are too many anecdotes to pick just one out. However, two stories from the previous occupiers of my job have stayed in my psyche always. At the office we keep all the Minutes of PFA meetings since the first one on 2nd December 1907 in Manchester. These men were all players who were brave enough to stand up and demand better conditions for players at a time when football was not even recognised as a profession for the purpose of industrial injuries! They saw improvements like a relay race where you do your bit and then pass the baton on. I always hope they would be proud of me. The second was Billy Meredith, founder of the Union and great player in his day. When Cliff Lloyd went to see him when he was dying, he asked Cliff to get a case from under the bed which was full of medals, caps, programmes and shirts. “Always remember to tell your members they didn’t look after me in my old age but my Union did.”

Q: How key is our mission of getting more people playing in high quality facilities to the development of the professional players of the future?
Your mission of getting better facilities for amateur and youth football has had a massive influence. We always are only as strong as the youngsters encouraged to play the game. They need good facilities, changing rooms and weatherproof pitches where they can learn from good coaches how to play in teams regularly. Now more than ever we need league games within local communities and professional clubs as school sport is no longer where most players learn to play and enjoy team work. Those who learn to play the game of football learn about much more than just football. To learn to work together in a team gives youngsters life skills that enhance their prospects for the rest of their lives.

Q: What are your aspirations for the PFA looking forward?
My aspiration for the PFA is for it to go forward full of confidence and positivity for the future as a ‘major player’ and be ‘custodians’ of the game, protecting and enhancing it for the benefit of all!  Diversity is and has always been a very important issue for me and so is community involvement. We strive to ensure that the mental health of our players is treated as seriously as their physical health.  We also want to ensure the safety of all football players, male and female, to make them aware of how they deal with bullying and inappropriate sexual behaviour towards them. We hope to continue to involve ourselves in all matters relating to the game we love to make it safe, secure and most of all enjoyable for all participants and help prepare each and every one for life after football.
Gordon as a player, in action for Birmingham City FC.
With both Tom Cleverley and Chancel Mbemba opening grassroots football facilities for us in the past month, we take a look at some of the other players currently plying their trade at the top of the English game who have helped us to open new community sports sites.
First up, it's three of Cleverley's Watford FC teammates. The trio of Troy Deeney, Heurelho Gomes and Jerome Sinclair joined our late Ambassador Graham Taylor to open a grassroots football hub for Watford FC Community Sports and Education Trust in 2016.
Up next, it's Crystal Palace FC defender Joel Ward. Joel, who has made more than 150 Premier League appearances for Palace for Palace for was joined by the club's Chief Executive Phil Alexander as he opened new all-weather playing surface at Darrick Wood School.
Next is England international Andros Townsend. The winger has played in the Premier League for four seperate clubs during his career, and joined us during his time with Tottenham Hotspur FC to officially unveil a new North-London football pitch at Capital City Academy.
More recently, we were lucky enough to be lent a hand by Burnley FC defender Ben Mee. Mee, who has been vital in the Clarets' push for a top half finish this season, took some time out to open our new pitch at Saints John Fisher and Thomas More Roman Catholic High School.
Finally, it's the goalkeeper with the record number of Premier League clean sheets, Petr Cech. The big shot-stopper gave us a hand at the opening of our all-weather pitch Elmbridge, Surrey, all the way back in 2009. The event was ceratinly in very safe hands!
Newcastle East End FC were able to overhaul their damaged playing surface thanks to a grant of £49,900 grant from the Emergency Football Relief Fund a fund created by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, via Sport England, to help clubs whose playing facilities had been affected by Storm Desmond in late 2015. In East End's case, their pitch was severely flooded and was taken out of action over safety concerns. The refurbished site, fit with a small-sided all-weather pitch, was opened last month by MP for Newcastle-upon-Tyne East, the Rt Hon. Nick Brown MP, allowing the local community to enjoy their football once again. 
Fancy working with us? We are looking for three creative, hard-working people to join our Comms Team. Below that are three more jobs at football clubs dotted across the country. 

Media & Publications Officer – Football Foundation
Projects Publicity Officer – Football Foundation

Digital & Social Media Officer – Football Foundation

Academy Football Scientist – Rochdale AFC
Matchday Academy Physiotherapist – Ipswich Town FC
Regional Talent Club Technical Director – Aston Villa Ladies FC
Goal of the season contenders are usually few and far between. Except, that is, for a recent game in the French Third Division, in which these two incredible goals were scored!  
Image: The Guardian
Mo Salah fever is sweeping through Liverpool after his fine recent form. This incredible clip proves so, as a choir in the city centre break-out into his very catchy chant. This is amazing!    
Image: Liverpool FC
Watch the brilliant moment when impressionist Darren Farley interviewed Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher, whilst impersonating the voice of Carragher himslef!     
Image: Sky Sports
These images are all licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
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Top Corner e-newsletter - March 2018
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