Steve Fletcher: The positive impact AFC Bournemouth has in the community
PUBLISHED: 10:16 09 August 2016
In his exclusive column for Dorset Magazine, AFC Bournemouth legend, Steve Fletcher, reflects on the positive impact that the football club has by supporting the local community
What I have witnessed, time and time again, throughout my career as a professional footballer is the impact ‘the beautiful game’ has on people’s lives. There is something about football that tugs on the heartstrings; it is a sport that has the power to educate, inspire and bring people together - whatever their age or background.
In my role as an ambassador for AFC Bournemouth, I’ve come to appreciate that the work we do in the local community is every bit as important as anything we do on the pitch. Whether we are visiting a school, a charity, a business, you only have to look at the smiles on the faces of children we meet, for example, to see how much our presence means to them.
While there are only so many places myself and the players can be on an outreach day, wherever possible, we do our very best to accommodate them. There are some clubs who pay lip service to their role in the community, but I can tell you that ours is one that is genuine. We have been a true community club for years and that’s something we pride ourselves on.
As well as going to outreach events with our players I also do events on my own. What I love about this role is the diversity of it – I could be doing a kick around with pupils in a school one day and the next talking to leading members of the business community at the Dorset Chamber of Commerce.
Since our promotion to the Premier League we have been inundated with so many requests that for the first season ever, we nominated charities that we pledged our support to throughout the campaign. These were the Amelia Grace Rainbow Fund, Care South, Macmillan Cancer Support Dorset, Breast Cancer Care and chairman, Jeff Mostyn’s chosen charity Dorset Cancer Care.
We also do a lot with Julia’s House, the children’s hospice which supports families across Dorset and now Wiltshire. We’ve had that relationship for many years, probably dating back to when it was established in the late 1990s. The last five or six years especially have seen the club heavily involved with them, and one of our former directors Adam Murray has done a lot of work with them. Our manager Eddie Howe and former manager Harry Redknapp are both patrons of the charity too.
Our players regularly visit the hospice to spend time with the children and their families and we also do fundraising exercises for them. Another aim is to raise awareness about the charity and fans will have noticed the Julia’s House badge Eddie and the team have been wearing this season.
This is a community relationship that works both ways. We are so fortunate to benefit from the support of our fans, local institutions and organisations which are all vital to us. AFC Bournemouth’s club motto is ‘together, anything is possible’ and we certainly feel anything is possible with the magnificent relationship we have with the local community.
• Steve Fletcher: A remarkable 12 months for AFC Bournemouth and the local impact of Premier League football - In his new exclusive column for Dorset Magazine, AFC Bournemouth legend Steve Fletcher talks about life at the Vitality Stadium and their first season in the Barclays Premier League