Cardiff City’s Will Vaulks, Bristol Rovers’ Alex Rodman and Matty Dolan of Newport County have been recognised by the EFL as the PFA Community Players of the Season.
The accolades were announced on the EFL’s Day of Action, with players and managers joining community activities including food bank deliveries, projects to tackle loneliness and mental health, support programmes for refugees and asylum seekers, initiatives for children living in poverty, and disability sports sessions.
Clubs were also recognised for their efforts, with Watford announced as London’s Community Club of the Year and Bristol Rovers winning the accolade for the South West and Wales. Sunderland were singled out in the North East and Yorkshire, while Blackburn Rovers were named Community Club of the Year in the North West. Port Vale and Portsmouth won for Midlands and South East and East respectively.
Vaulks, an ambassador for the Cardiff City FC Foundations, said: “I know first hand from volunteering that children and young peoples’ lives can be transformed with the right support.
“The foundation is working hard to support children and young people in our communities facing health and education inequalities made worse by the pandemic.
“Volunteering is one of the best things you can do, not only to help other people but to help yourself. It’s massively rewarding.”
Newport’s Dolan was recognised for his work for County in the Community initiatives, attending a number of events and making school visits to deliver equipment to local pupils.
Dolan said: “If I can help just a tiny bit then it’s my pleasure because it’s something that I’ve really enjoyed.”
Tomorrow is #EFLDayofAction.
All 72 @EFL Clubs and their Community Trusts will unite to showcase the positive impact football can have across their local communities.
Take a look back at last year's highlights https://t.co/GWVRx5K1XM pic.twitter.com/oiYIGjqHWN
As part of the EFL’s Day of Action initiative, Norwich City’s Tim Krul will make a surprise appearance to children attending the Club’s NHS Superhero Soccer Schools, which were set up for children of NHS workers at three local hospitals. The project was funded through £200,000 raised by players and coaching staff.
Millwall’s LGBT team will take part in a special coaching session hosted by Paul Robinson at The Den, while Preston North End will be educating locals about the importance of the festival of Ramadan and supporting those fasting with dates, fresh fruit and water.
A statement from the EFL said clubs had “collectively distributed over 1.4 million food parcels, more than 179,000 items of PPE, 22,000 prescriptions and donated over 2,100 laptops and tablets” since March 2020 as part of efforts to help relieve the financial strain of the coronavirus pandemic.
Club staff and their players have also had in excess of 527,000 outgoing and incoming conversations with fans and vulnerable people, the statement added.
“The way that our clubs and [Club Community Organisations] have adapted to deal with the challenges of the past year is remarkable, responding to the growing needs of their communities affected by the pandemic while also continuing to deliver critical life-changing programmes in towns and cities across England and Wales to people who need it most,” EFL chair Rick Parry said.
“The EFL Day of Action gives us a platform to step back and take the time to acknowledge the hard work that our Clubs are doing in their communities every day of the year.
“Community work delivered by football Clubs is without a doubt one of the key mechanisms in helping to address important societal issues with the aim of building stronger, healthier, active, more cohesive communities.
“It’s great to see all 72 EFL Clubs, players, managers, staff and participants come together to highlight the power of football in uniting people and working for the greater good.”
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