For a second successive year, Eastbourne Town Football Club and the University of Brighton’s School of Sport and Service Management hosted a free to attend Easter football festival for schoolchildren across Eastbourne.
The event was supported by NHS Sussex and endorsed by Eastbourne Borough Council and the Eastbourne Herald & Gazette, as nearly 60 children learned about healthy lifestyles and values around football.
This values based approach, which is at the core of their joint venture work, is an innovative and pioneering style of using sport as a community development resource. It follows the groundbreaking work of the university’s Football 4 Peace initiative that has been so successful in Israel, Palestine, Northern Ireland and Cyprus.
Volunteer student leaders from the F4P initiative showed, through group activity, how neutrality, equity, respect, trust and responsibility can be used in life as well as in sport. The children were also shown how, with confidence, knowledge and experience of exercise, nutrition and sport, they can make healthy lifestyle choices and benefit from physical activity.
MP Stephen Lloyd and Eastbourne Town captain, Ben Austin, presented fair-play awards and certificates to all on the final day. On Saturday, many of the children formed a guard of honour at Town’s home game with Corinthian-Casuals.
Stephen Lloyd said, “Projects like this are absolutely fantastic. In a town like Eastbourne, it’s great to see the children given an opportunity to learn life skills in a fun way, around football. That’s really important. Eastbourne should be proud of the work Eastbourne Town FC and the University’s Football 4 Peace team do locally. It really is innovative and it does such good.”
Project Leader and Principal Lecturer, Dr Gary Stidder, co-founder of F4P with Professor John Sugden in 2001 said, “ This free community event provided local primary school children with the opportunity to be active and learn about important human values in society. Football is the metaphor and in the right hands can be a valuable educational experience for all young people. Our close working relationship with Eastbourne Town FC allows us a terrific way to deliver such experiences.”
David Jenkins, Town’s Chairman, added, “ As we look to develop our reach and deliver more services for the community, our task is made so much easier by having such excellent relationships with key people like those at the University of Brighton and Eastbourne Borough Council. Together, there is so much we can achieve. We are most grateful to Gary Stidder and the team of volunteer coaches as well as NHS Sussex for their invaluable support. Most pleasing, however, is to see the smiles on the children’s faces, knowing a good outcome has been achieved for all.”