NEWTOWN Football Club has hailed two club initiatives it hopes will help lead to a brighter future for the game and society.
The club’s We Wear the Same Shirt’ programme, aimed at helping people with mental health issues, has proved a huge success since its launch two years ago.
Last week the club also hosted a Show Racism the Red Card event with pupils from Maesyrhandir Primary School and Dyffryn Banw Primary School in attendance at Latham Park.
Club secretary Owen Durbridge said: “The We Wear the Same Shirt project has been a revelation to me personally and to the coaches involved.
“We started the campaign using trained students from our linked college in Newtown who have derived enormous benefit from seeing people who had suffered mental health problems enjoying themselves in a safe and friendly environment.
“The participants have grown over the two years into people who appear far less shy and desperate to play competitive games.
“When we changed the training times to after work hours, that made a big difference, opening the group up to more people while several have taken up key roles within the club.
“One player opted to volunteer in our refreshment hut on match days and is still there now, always keen to cook something more challenging and demand more responsibility at the club.
“Another chose to become a qualified coach and assists with our under 14s academy programme.
“Competitive football is what the players want and a couple have signed on for other teams, and one has become a qualified referee, officiating in local games.
“The project has been a resounding success and one we shall keep going for as long as possible.”
Meanwhile the Show Racism the Red Card event saw pupils from both attending schools work alongside organisers with support from Newtown Football Club coaches and Newtown College.
The event was part of a week of activities across Wales which saw Welsh Premier clubs welcome local children to their schools for workshops.
Academy coach Gareth Watkins said: “Newtown AFC and Newtown College were proud to attend the day and share our experiences of racism in sport.
“The children asked us, as a panel, fantastic questions that were thought provoking and mature in nature.
“Newtown AFC support ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ and have taken part in these workshops for a couple of years now.
“Educating the youth of today is integral in working towards stamping out racism in sport.
“A massive well done to all the children from Dyffryn Banw and Maesyrhandir.”