Ashford United launch partnership with Charlton Athletic Community Trust to provide community projects at Homelands Stadium
ASHFORD UNITED have joined into a partnership with Charlton Athletic’s Community Trust, the charity arm of the League One club.
The Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT) will be using Homelands Stadium as their South East Hub to run numerous initiatives involving the community such as football holiday courses, social inclusion, early help programmes (disability/walking), summer and autumn NCS programmes, football development programmes for toddlers, junior and youth.
Ashford United’s director of football Paul Bowden-Brown said in a statement: “There were a number of reasons I felt this partnership was the right fit for our club.
“Firstly, I felt after reviewing the current set-up with Ian Docker and the directors, it would take too long to set up such initiatives and run them as our own in the name of Ashford United FC, so when I heard that the Charlton Athletic Community Trust were looking for somewhere in the South East as their Hub I knew I had to meet them.
“After listening to them it became very clear they were used to running such sports initiatives. They had the template and the staff to ensure success, so the decision was easy.
“Of course it is a partnership and we will assist as a partner wherever we can to ensure success in everything we are involved in.
“This partnership was also to ensure that the hard work our owner Don Crosbie has carried out over the years against all the odds to keep the club in a strong financial position was rewarded.
“It will bring new revenue streams into the club but also the innovative design and planning work behind the scenes that has been carried out by Don and his daughter will ensure that Homelands in the future years will be able to offer the most impressive sports and business facilities to the local community.
“We must always remember that we have a fantastic stadium here at Homelands with already great facilities, so you can only dream how it will grow and improve.
“What we can offer under the stewardship of Dan and his fellow directors within the next five years is a facility that will be the envy of the county.”
Michael Ward, who is the head of football and sports development at Charlton Athletic’s Community Trust, added: “Charlton Athletic Community Trust and Ashford United FC will be working together to offer the local community a fully comprehensive football and sports development programme.
“This will include a free two-year further education post 16 football academy, school holiday football courses, offer an elite pathway, walking football and coaching workshops all to be delivered at the Homelands Stadium.
“After the successful launch of the Charlton Athletic Community Trust diversionary activity project within Ashford Boroughs, in partnership with Ashford Council and Kent Police, CACT are proud to be working once again in Ashford and are excited for what the future will bring.
“CACT are fully excited about this new opportunity, we will be working closely with Ashford United FC to deliver football and sports activities for the whole community in Ashford.
“We will bring our knowledge and experience to ensure a fun and safe environment to learn, utilise links to the famed Charlton Athletic FC Academy to run the advanced centre for talented players and use Homelands to deliver sessions for community groups such as the elderly, migrants and families.
“The post-16 football and education programme will offer current Year 11 students an excellent further education pathway for next year. The students will study a comprehensive course and have opportunities to develop and improve as players in a football environment.”
The trials have already started so for those leaving secondary school this year and require information please visit www.cact.org.uk/post-16-academies or contact CACT’s south east Kent football development officer Richard Styles on Richard.Styles@cact.org.uk.
Styles’ other job is the part-time manager of Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division side Tunbridge Wells in the ninth-tier of English football.
Charlton Athletic Community Trust have been delivering community programmes since they were established in 1992 and became CACT, a registered charity in 2003. Using the power of football, CACT works in partnership with local communities to improve health, education and employment and reduce crime.
Meanwhile, Ashford United remain in third-place in the Isthmian League South East Division – the eighth-tier of English football – following their 4-0 home win over Hythe Town yesterday.
Tommy Warrilow’s side are only three points adrift of the league leaders, Eltham-based Cray Valley (Paper Mills) having collected 26 points from their 12 league games.
Homelands Stadium has had an artificial pitch for seven years and the club aim to replace the current pitch for a new 3G playing surface at the end of the season. Such facilities allows community projects like this one to take place.
Visit Ashford United’s website: www.ashfordunitedfc.com