Everton in the Community (EitC) was a hive of activity on Monday afternoon as it held a showcase event for the Club’s official charity with a handful of first-team stars.
Club captain Phil Jagielka was joined by Leighton Baines, Michael Keane and Tom Davies at The People’s Hub on Spellow Lane where they were unveiled as EitC player ambassadors - and the quartet wasted no time in getting to grips with their new roles.
The work of EitC is defined by five key themes - Youth Engagement, Health and Wellbeing, Sports Development, Education and Employment, and Disability. Under each ‘pillar’, a range of innovative and ground-breaking programmes are delivered by qualified coaches and volunteers.
The EitC showcase afternoon highlighted one programme from each of the pillars and saw the four Blues stars find out more about the pillar they will be heading up, as well as spending time with participants from the charity’s programmes who were keen to tell them how the schemes have supported them and made an impact on their lives.
Toffees skipper Jagielka is the ambassador for the charity’s Employment, Education and Training pillar and found out more about its work from a group of young people from the PFA and Prince’s Trust funded ‘Premier League Works’ programme as they took on a creative marketing challenge designed to help improve their motivation, confidence and self-esteem.
His defensive teammate Baines keeps his role as Health and Wellbeing Ambassador, and the Blues left-back joined in with a NAAFI break with ex-service personnel who are supported through the charity’s ‘Knowsley Veterans Hub’ programme as they spoke to him about how the project has helped them with the transition back to civilian life.
Speaking about his role, Baines said: “There’s a few of us here today and we’re all getting involved in lots of different activities – it’s something that Everton in the Community and the Premier League does as far reaching and as positive as possible. We enjoy coming down and doing these things with the charity – they’re local to us and its work is so important. We’re right next to Goodison Park here today, but also their work in the schools and the hospitals that is just as important – these are the things which we enjoy getting out and doing.
“Everton in the Community keeps growing because the demand for it keeps growing, so with that comes more duty and obligations for us to fulfil. Things like this, there’s no shortage of lads who want to come down and do it and these are definitely the plus sides – I always find these events a lot more purposeful and enjoyable.”
Summer signing Michael Keane has been announced as the ambassador for the Sports Development pillar, which sees the charity deliver a variety of Premier League-funded programmes across Merseyside to engage young people in sporting opportunities. He joined a group of local primary school children in an outdoor multi-sports session at Cruyff Court Everton.
Speaking after his first insight into the work of Everton in the Community, Keane said: “I’m obviously new to the Club but I’ve heard a lot about how much the community do and how hard the staff work and you can see that here today with all the people here and all the different activities going on.
“I’ve been with some local school children and it was great to see them getting involved in not just football but loads of different sports. To see how happy they were to have us come down and take part is special as well because I know I would have been the exact same when I was at school if I’d got to meet a Premier League footballer and you don’t forget that.”
Academy graduate Davies got to embrace his love of music at the showcase event when he joined in a drumming session led by samba band Katumba with a group of young people who have recently completed the NCS programme. In his role as Youth Engagement Ambassador, the midfielder had the opportunity to find out about how EitC has worked with the young people to help them develop greater confidence, self-awareness and responsibility.
Club Ambassador and Everton legend Graeme Sharp was also in attendance on the afternoon as he stood in for EitC Disability Ambassador Seamus Coleman and met players from one of the charity’s Pan Disability teams and took part in a multi-sports training session.
To find out more about the work of Everton in the Community and its ambassadors, head to evertonfc.com/community.