James Nalton digs into the social side of football and the importance of Liverpool FC supporting the local and wider community.
Football clubs should be defined by their local community — it’s just one of the things which stops them being identical to each other and, along with their general philosophy on the pitch, gives them a unique standing within the game.
Some clubs become so big that they then begin to influence the area in which they reside. The communities which contributed to the football club’s rise are then shaped by the organisation they helped to create.
This can occur in both positive and negative ways and it’s important for clubs like Liverpool to continue their good work in their region.
Liverpool became a global powerhouse thanks to fans from around the world who were drawn to the identity created by locals.
This identity was added to over the years by people from all corners of the globe, not just fans, but also players and staff who have brought their own ingredients to add to this particular serving of Scouse.
A club can impose upon the community in which it resides, but Liverpool are making efforts, especially under the current ownership, to integrate themselves into the local area and support those within it.
The work of independent organisations has also been important to encourage the club to work with and support the local communities, and many of these organisations are now able to work with it on various initiatives.
The Sean Cox Appeal
Volunteers from the club and supporters’ union Spirit of Shankly organised a bucket collection before the Cardiff City game and the club’s official charity, the LFC Foundation, matched the amount given by fans—meaning all money collected was doubled, with a total of £60,000 raised. The current online amount is over €200,000.
From the manager Jurgen Klopp, who made his own sizeable donation, to players and fans from all clubs, this initiative has brought people together in support of Sean, who was attacked by Roma fans prior to the Champions League semi-final last season and left with serious head injuries.
As well as taking collections on the day, the Cardiff game was also used to raise awareness for the fundraising page for Sean for those who want to contribute further, were unable to make it to Anfield or didn’t have any cash on them at the ground.
Fans Supporting Foodbanks
According to the organisers of Fans Supporting Foodbanks, the rollout of Universal Credit this month, on top of recent austerity measures, will double the amount of food needed by those in the north Liverpool area who rely on its food bank.
The service was already stretched and, to further raise awareness of the issue, Jamie Carragher and Liverpool chairman Peter Moore have helped spread the word via social media and outside the ground where collections are made.
“It’s important and great to be able to do this, but also sad that we have to with everything that we’ve got going on in this world, the fact that people still can’t feed themselves,” Moore told Redmen TV.
“It’s massively important,” adds Carragher.
“There is nothing more important than families putting food on the table, and it’s not easy for them [at the moment].”
Walton MP Dan Carden has warned that the Universal Credit system will lead to more homelessness in the area, meaning these food banks will become even more stretched.
“We are using the potential of 40 or 50,000 fans coming into the community every other weekend as a resource to fight and tackle food poverty within the Walton Constituency,” he said.
“The challenge we face, is that I want every food bank in this country to close down. I don’t want any food poverty.”
Liverpool‘s Red Neighbours initiative was set up with the sole focus of helping the communities and schools in the Anfield area.
Like the food banks operation, they focus on food poverty, but also look at areas such as education, support for the elderly, physical fitness and “creating memorable experiences for young people.”
Focusing on the L4 area, this particular initiative works towards helping those in the shadow of Anfield, many of whom may not be football fans but are affected by the club nevertheless, due to the fact they live beside the stadium.
Recent and ongoing activities include the Red Neighbours Club for 55+, which is a regular physical and social get-together for people over 55.
There is also a walking football side, which recently welcomed the England national walking football team—who scraped a 2-1 against the Anfield locals.
Much of the work goes unnoticed, especially when it comes to the various organisations who work with the club on a voluntary basis, organising events and support for the community and its charitable causes in their spare time.
With the club joining in, extras such as the club chairman providing the food bank collectors with a bigger van may only be a small gesture in the grand scheme of the multi million-pound business that is top level football, but they can make a big difference at ground level in the local community.