Blackburn’s ‘Next Generation’ backed two worthy causes
The ‘Next Generation’ of Blackburn Rovers fans who attended Saturday’s home fixture against Stoke City was a receptive audience for the club’s aims of promoting two very worthy causes.
The club has handed out 2,500 complimentary tickets to local schools, clubs and voluntary groups through its official charity, Blackburn Rovers Community Trust. This helped to generate one of Ewood Park’s largest crowds of the season via the ‘Next Generation’ initiative. The match was also an opportunity to generate awareness for Kick It Out and Child Action North West.
This past week, Kick It Out the national anti-racism and anti-discrimination charity celebrated its 25th anniversary, during which time, Blackburn Rovers players and staff helped to facilitate numerous roadshows and workshops in support of the organisation’s key messages. At a time when a number of forms of discrimination have worryingly crept back in to certain quarters of the game, this awareness day gave Blackburn the chance to show that they will not stand for racism or any other discriminatory behaviour – a policy that the whole club adopts at all times through the #OneRovers concept, which is the banner given to all forms of inclusion work undertaken by the club.
Fans attending the game learned much more about the work of Kick It Out thanks to messages in the matchday programme and via the stadium PA system, as well as kitting out cuddly mascot Rover The Dog in one of the charity’s t-shirts. Hundreds of clap banners featuring the Kick It Out branding were also distributed in family areas of the stadium to simultaneously raise the awareness of the cause and the noise levels inside the stadium!
The second worthy cause recognised at the game, Child Action North West (CANW), is a charity based within the town that helps to support more than 6,000 children each year. The organisation helps them to overcome problems in their home lives connected to issues such as deprivation, substance abuse, neglect, abuse and broken families. As well as inviting dignitaries from the charity to address the crowd before the game and at half-time, there was a bucket collection in aid of CANW around the stadium. Also, children supported by the cause were invited to experience the thrill of walking out as player escorts for the two teams.
A selection of children who were attending the game as beneficiaries of the ‘Next Generation’ initiative also got the chance to play an active part in promoting both causes. A handful of lucky volunteers gained the chance to walk out ahead of the teams parading banners in support of Kick It Out and Child Action North West.
The wider scope of the matchday’s aims were well timed, falling within the current #MoreThanFootball action weeks, which Blackburn Rovers Community Trust are proud to support as members of the European Football for Development Network. The club and Community Trust’s desire to support these noteworthy causes is in perfect alignment with the campaign’s aspirations to show how clubs can inspire positive changes to people’s lives through the power of football.