Less than an hour’s flight apart, Cork City and FC United of Manchester have plenty in common. Strong community roots, a fierce sense of local identity and some of the most passionate football fans around…
Cork City welcomed FC United’s Community and Education Manager, Andy Cheshire, to Cork for the first of their exchange visits last October, and the return visit is now set for the weekend of February 4th and 5th – when the club will faces Austrian supporter-owned football club SV Austria Salzburg in a friendly match at Broadhurst Park (KO 5pm).
The exchange visits are a key part of the Clubs and Supporters for Better Governance in Football project, which is co-financed by the Erasmus + programme of the European Union and Uefa.
Bringing together six member-owned football clubs and six national supporters organisations from across Europe, as well as additional groups and stakeholders from the SD Europe network, the project will host three different training events on Good Governance, Sustainable Finance, and Member & Volunteer Engagement, while also building strong connections across the European Union and further afield by facilitating at least 15 partner exchanges at last count.
Last October Cork City’s vice-chairman and project co-ordinator John Kennedy and Andy Cheshire visited Nagle Community College to see the club’s First Team coach John Cotter lead a training session at the youth academy set up between the club and school. With the objective of encouraging students to stay in school and complete their Leaving Cert, a group of 18 players train twice a week as part of their school curriculum.
The same evening Cork City came together with IndieCork, an independent film festival in the city that is set up as a co-operative, to host An Evening Of Football Film & Chat At The Kino. Having watched two short films, Dave Tynan’s ‘Rockmount’ and ‘Pentecost’ by Peter McDonald, the attendees took part in a Q&A session led by Pat Lyons, CCFC & FORAS Trust chairman, Ben Shave of SD Europe, Tony Langlois of IndieCork and Andy from FC United. A key thread of the evening was the benefits that community and co-operative ownership can provide to their respective communities.
Following a number of discussion sessions the next day, the group visited the Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Des Cahill – where an outline of what the project entails was given to Cork’s first citizen. The delegation then attended City’s final home league game of the season against St. Patrick’s Athletic.
The third and final day of the exchange visit saw a discussion around the importance of strong community ties and funding for community initiatives. Gerry Sexton of Bohemians FC and the Gypsies Trust outlined the reasons why the club set up a Foundation for its community work in early 2016, while Andy Cheshire gave a detailed account of his club’s extensive community programme in the Moston area of Manchester.
All of which sets up the return visit to Manchester next month very nicely!