On Tuesday 13th March organisations in Pembrokeshire came together to celebrate the launch of joint initiative ‘More Than a Club’, with the Football Association of Ireland and Vi-Ability. Representatives from the local council, voluntary services, the Football Association of Wales and many more were in attendance to mark this special occasion, hosted at Haverfordwest County AFC.

The “More than a Club” project aims to develop new social enterprises aligned with four football clubs in Ireland and Wales, which will design, develop and deliver innovative social programmes centred on health, education and social inclusion.

The pilot project is supported by the Ireland Wales European Territorial Co-Operation programme, which is helping to strengthen collaboration between Ireland and Wales to address common economic and social challenges.

Speaking about the launch, Vi-Ability Chief Executive, Adam Bull said;

“It’s great to see how well received the launch has been to the local and regional organisations in Pembrokeshire. Clubs, regardless of size, location or sport, are most successful when they hold a strong bond with their community and make themselves relevant to the local people within it.

Haverfordwest County AFC has completely bought into this initiative and welook forward to the prospect of working with like-minded organisations to enhance and expand its community reach. We plan on harnessing the power and profile of football to grow the club as a valuable community entity which, in turn, reflects the needs of local people to provide possible solutions to health and socio-economic issues.

David Hughes, Chairman of Haverfordwest County AFC said;

“The work that Vi-Ability are doing in Pembrokeshire with Haverfordwest County as their partner has, at this early stage, been most impressive. However, their task is one that will involve the support of many other groups and we have all been very happy with the manner in which this exciting project has been received. It requires like-minded organisations to work together and, in doing so, we can spread the wider benefits our game brings to people and communities. We are excited to explore the project with the Football Association of Ireland and share best practice with our partner clubs over the water at Bohemians FC and Cork City. Finally, we are determined to firmly cement our relationship with our community by opening our doors to the people of Pembrokeshire.”

Jo Price, Community Development Officer, said; “It was refreshing to meet local and regional organisations, from St. Davids Dementia Café to the Football Association of Wales. We’ve had an overwhelming response to the launch with local organisations pledging their support to get involved with ‘More Than a Club’. We feel these pledges will allow us to work in a collaborative way to identify opportunities, which will benefit individuals residing within Pembrokeshire, and hopefully attract future investment through our innovative approaches to tackling health and socio-economic issues.

Vi-Ability’s 8-week award-winning ‘Run The Club’ programme is currently being held at the club’s facilities, aimed at Individuals not in education, employment or training. The programme participants have already hosted a “Coffee and Cake” morning which led to the group raising funds for an Easter egg hunt and walking football match at the Club, with the hope of attracting diverse members of the community. By delivering this programme at the club, we hope to provide the club and community with a skilled workforce, where individuals develop business and employability skills, whilst gaining hands-on experience.

For more information about the project, please email or contact More Than Club operations manager, Shelley Meyern on 01492 583 555.