It might sound like a cliché, but it is fans that make a football club. Nowhere is that truer than at the New York: the atmosphere, the passion and the pride that you get here on a matchday is hard to explain to someone who hasn’t felt it. The best word to sum up the feeling here is ‘community’ – when you’re in this stadium it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from or what you believe. For 90 minutes, we are all Rotherham, all united behind the team.
It’s what makes football so special. The ability to put everything else to one side and get behind your team.
RUCST is about harnessing the passion people here have for their club and their town and using that to give back to the wider community.
Saturday 26th January marks the day of the Rotherham United FC ‘Building a Stronger Britain Together’ (BSBT) game against Leeds United FC. BSBT is a programme that encourages partnership between the government and people involved in projects that tackle division, counter extremism in all its forms and build stronger communities across the country. In recent weeks, we’ve been speaking to fans of both Rotherham and Leeds for a series of videos about what it is that being a fan means to them: the sights, the sounds, the memories and the feelings that they get when supporting their team. What came across from both sets of fans was the sense of being part of something bigger. Whether it was the friends they have made through following their team or the feeling they get from the roar of the crowd, football is about people – whoever they may be - coming together.
As part of our work with the community, RUCST are set to launch their BSBT project in partnership with Just Another Dance Event and Thurcroft Youth Centre. The project aim is to integrate young people from different communities bringing them together; improving community cohesion and reducing negative perception of others through activities that explore citizenship and identity, community cohesion, awareness and tackling hate crime. A partnership approach which will connect young people from Rotherham town centre with those living in Bramley, Wath, Thurcroft and Dinnington areas, working with youth organisations, schools and local authority Early Help teams and detached youth workers to support vulnerable young people’s engagement on the project.
To promote this important message, RUCST and Leeds United Foundation will host a Premier League Kicks U14’s friendly prior to kick-off at Saturday’s game to promote the coming together of two groups through football. Premier League Kicks Project provides us with a platform and a resource to facilitate integration. The purpose of the Premier League Kicks initiative through Rotherham United Community Sports Trust, is to provide safe sporting activities for young people in the area of Rotherham. Our overall aims are to reduce the rates of anti-social behaviour. In addition to this, our intension is to promote community cohesion, as well as linking with Rotherham Health and Wellbeing strategy.
Through our inclusion department RUCST delivers a combination of traditional youth clubs sessions, detached youth work, outreach and sports activities across the borough of Rotherham. This has enabled us to strengthen our relationship with people from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Due to Premier League, Sport England, Controlling Migration, South Yorkshire Sport and Police and Crime Commissioner funding we have been able to target young people and adults from areas across the borough and more specifically in high BME areas such as Ferham, Eastwood and Masborough. This has allowed us to engage Slovakian, Asian, Roma and White British disadvantaged people. Subsequently, we have implemented educational work covering hate crime and how to report it through the appropriate channels, which runs through the core of our provision. Additionally, in an attempt to inspire ambition, we offer traineeships for young people aged 16-18 and 19-24, leading on to a clear progression path onto our apprenticeships. This allows positive members of the diverse communities the opportunity to become an ambassador for cohesion, integration and inclusion using the power of football as vehicle.