EFDN Interview – Tomas Abreu from Brentford FC Community Sports Trust

22 July 2020

EFDN Interview – Tomas Abreu from Brentford FC Community Sports Trust

The next EFDN Interview features Tomas Abreu from Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. Tomas is currently Marketing & Partnerships Manager, overseeing Marketing, Commercial, Fundraising and International Development work. He talks about the ‘Brentford 1899’ challenge and shares tips on fundraising. 

Tomas joined Brentford FC Community Sports Trust in 2015, while completing a MSc in Sports Management at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is passionate about Sports for Development and using the power of sports and football to achieve positive community outcomes through innovative and creative ways.

EFDN: What is a typical day in your role like? What do you love the most about working for the club/foundation?

As being mainly involved and responsible for managing the Trust’s Marketing, Fundraising and Corporate Partnerships activities, a typical day at the Trust is busy, varied and creative. I enjoy the most experiencing the full process from the moment of discussing a particular idea to the final stage of seeing it fully launched and having the desired impact according to the initial need. That is the biggest motivation and what inspires me to work with a group of pro-active colleagues across all departments, to help develop current and new initiatives.

EFDN: What are the main target areas of your foundation?

The Trust covers mainly 5 areas of work – Health, Education and Schools, Disabilities, Communities Engagement/Intervention and Football Development. In addition, events and fundraising initiatives are also an important part of the Trust’s work, which allow engagement with the wider public and with corporate partners, bringing people together and raising significant funds for the Trust.

EFDN: What is the Brentford 1899 challenge? Can you please explain in more detail what the fundraising challenge is about, including the objectives and the impact this programme aims to have within the community?

The Brentford 1889 Challenge was developed with the aim of replacing our presence on the Prudential Ride London event, which is the biggest charity cycling focused event in the world where we enter a team of 25 to 40 riders to fundraise for the Trust every year.

The 1889 Challenge is designed to raise much-needed funds for our award-winning charity. Cyclists are asked to cycle as many miles as possible 16 August to reach the collective 1,889 miles – representing the year Brentford FC was founded.

All funds raised during the Brentford 1889 challenge are going directly to establish a new cycling hub at our new sports facilities at the Gunnersbury Park Sport Hub.

Every year we also produce a unique cycling shirt, which motivates everyone involved to join in the fun and to also achieve their individual fundraising targets. For this year, we have produced a cycling jersey inspired on the Brentford FC third kit (the blue commemorative Farewell Griffin Park Shirt) which was launched as the exclusive home shirt to celebrate the last year Brentford FC is competing at its current stadium, Griffin Park.

As this year’s Ride London event was cancelled due to the current unprecedented times, it was necessary to realign our overall fundraising and partnerships strategy. As a result, we thought it would be appropriate to focus on developing a cycling initiative in line with the last season at Griffin Park to celebrate the stadium move and at this stage the potential promotion to the Premier League, which led to the creation and launch of the Brentfod 1889 Challenge.

The challenge aims to encourage as many participants, Brentford Fans and locals to cycle as many miles as possible, to collectively cycle a minimum of 1889 miles, coinciding with the year Brentford FC was established. Each rider received an official blue jersey produced for this year’s event and has a minimum fundraising target of £250 to take part.

So far we have over 10 participants, riding collectively around 2600 miles and fundraising a minimum of £2500 guaranteed if target each individual target is achieved. In addition, we thought we would open the possibility for anyone else to purchase the jersey, in collaboration with Brentford FC and the cycling clothing manufacturer company we work with we decided to launch a sales campaign where part of the profits are re-directed to the Trust as per the fundraising challenge objective. This particular jersey is a standard version of the official fundraising event shirt, which does not include the partners logos and event sponsors on it, similar to the concept of official and replica football shirts.

EFDN: How did you to get partners like the manufacturer of the jersey in Italy involved?

We were fortunate to have met Saddledrunk a couple of years ago, based 1.5 miles away from Brentford, a cycling club and company which has its own cycling clothing factory in Italy and has always produced a high-quality jersey for our cycling focused initiatives. After several meetings, different ideas were discussed leading to all current plans in place.

EFDN: What challenges did you face during the preparation and how did you/ plan to overcome them?

The Brentford 1889 Challenge is the result of the current covid-19 situation, which prevents us as all charities across UK to physically take part in the biggest cycling fundraising focused event of the year. As a result, after an initial outreach campaign, we were certain about the demand for a wide cycling event and by bringing the strongest messages from our community work and Brentford FC, the 1889 Challenge was developed and launched.

In addition, another challenge we faced was around using the right sports events and marketing tools, in order to run our own event. After some research and discussions, we have now developed our own bespoke registration system on our website, which then links to Virgin Giving and Strava in order to track distance, fundraising targets and also to create a social/community aspect to the overall event.

EFDN:  Do you have any advice for our members on how to create new fundraising initiatives?

The main important aspect is to think about a fun and engaging theme for a fundraising initiative, easy to attract and encourage as many people as possible to join the cause, with the main aim of making a positive difference towards a specific cause. At this stage and especially during the current times, I would like to think it would ideal to develop and deliver a fundraising event with EFDN and as many club members as possible due to the scope and opportunity to pass on a strong message to many communities across Europe, but to also raise awareness about vital community focused programmes each foundation is working on.

EFDN:  What makes the role of clubs and their foundations so important during this crisis?

Despite different focused areas of work and despite of delivering different programmes, foundations are vital to bring people together and to promote positive change across the communities they interact and engage with, therefore more than ever sports, clubs and community organisations have an important role to play within the current times.

EFDN: How do you stay safe, healthy and fit? Do you have any tips or advice?

Having a balanced social/physical active life helps to get through these times quite well and yes, if the weather is good, definitely going for a cycle. I was personally training for an Ironman distance event so kept going with the training schedule even though the event has been postponed to 2021. This was a new fundraising event we chose for 2020 in addition to the cycling event we take part every year.

EFDN: EFDN believes that Football is #More than Football. Why do you think your foundation is #morethanfootball?

We are #morethanfootball as our work, staff and commitment to our community goes beyond engaging communities through football. We focus on key mentoring, education and specialized support programmes to all ages, genders and backgrounds through engaging with different participants through a multi-dimensional and multi-sport vision.

EFDN: To whom would you like to #passiton too, and why? Please choose another CSR-practitioner within or related to our network. You can even suggest a CSR topic for them to use as a starting point.

Joris Jacobus – Club Brugge, for being a proactive and good colleague across any initiatives and projects.

If you want to know more about Tomas Abreu and his work at Brentford FC Community Sports Trustthen you can visit his Linkedin profile.


Brentford FC – Football Programmes

Football Development Centre Our Football Development Centre (FDC) offers talented young players the opportunity to receive high-quality coaching – ...

Brentford FC – Get Set Project

The Get Set Project provides vulnerable young people with bespoke employability skills and training opportunities. Funded by Danny ...