Although FC Barcelona have turned it into their motto, the truth is every single football club out there is "more than a club". It's a pillar of the community, it brings together people of all walks of life, it instils pride in an area's culture and heritage, and so much more.
Notts County Football Club go a step further by giving back to the community, both local and global, with the help of Notts County FC Football in the Community.
A lot of Notts fans may be vaguely aware of FITC but know little more about what they truly do, so Pride of Nottingham will cast the spotlight on them and their work.
In 1989, Notts County FC founded the "Notts County FC Community Programme". This was set up by Footballers' Further Education and Vocational Training Scheme (FFE+VTS), which was a welfare scheme operated by the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) for its members.
The NCFC Community Programme had the following aims:
- Encourage more people especially children to play football
- Provide training, leading to employment
- Promote closer community links with professional football clubs
- Encourage more people especially children to watch live professional matches
- Maximise the use of facilities at professional football grounds
Such was its success that it gained a National Award for Training Programme in 1994 and, six years later, gained charity status, became independent and former a board of trustees to become the Football In The Community charity it is today.
With over 35 projects that cover all 20 city wards, FITC have enriched, empowered and encouraged hundreds of thousands of people across Nottingham over the last 28 years, and have been recognised for their great work with multiple awards, including the illustrious "Professional Club Community Programme of the Year" at the 2016 Sport & Recreation Awards.
As of 2017 FITC continue to serve the community with the same passion and commitment they were founded with, focusing on 6 key areas of work (as displayed on their badge):
- Social Inclusion
- Sports Participation
- National Citizens Service (NCS)
Although working alongside Notts County FC, FITC is an independent charity which raises all its own funding, so it's essential for fans to get behind it and continue the great work they're doing in Nottingham.
FITC recently held an event at West Bridgford's Poppy & Pint in which Notts legend Les Bradd talked about his illustrious career and it was enjoyed by all who came.
And plenty more events are in the pipeline, such as the Inflatable 5k Nottingham (July 14) the Peak District TrekFest challenge (September 1), Robin Hood Marathon (September 30) and the CEO sleepout (October 11).
FITC Media Officer Leighton T James said of working alongside Pride of Nottingham: "I find your articles and content insightful, humorous and strikes a cord with a very passionate and family friendly audience.
"The tide is changing in the way football fans engage with the media.
"When I was a child I remember visiting Sixfields Stadium, home of Northampton Town and my dad buying 'The Hotel End' fanzine and chucking to himself at the illustrations and articles written by cobblers fans.
"Now, that has changed with the rise of social media and fan channels like Arsenal Fan TV. We are very happy to associate ourselves with fan site like PON."
We at Pride of Nottingham are delighted to be working alongside Notts County FC Football in the Community and will do our very best to ensure it gets the spotlight it deserves.