In 2011, Chesterfield FC Community Trust developed 'walking football', sparking a nationwide craze. CEO John Croot explains how its Hub, renovated with a Charity Bank loan, brings people together.
Fast-paced, dynamic, driven by teamwork, fuelled by ambition... football is many things and when it's used for good, it's as glorious as the winning goal scored by your favourite team. It's a game that transcends class, culture and race and, with the advent of walking football, even age. So when faced with problems like social exclusion, poor health and unemployment in Derbyshire, our dream was to create a football club not set on winning the Premiership but focused on scoring goals for people and communities. Welcome to Chesterfield FC Community Trust.
We offer a range of activities which help us to achieve our mission, including football training for diverse ages and skill levels, women's football and courses for people with disabilities. We 'kicked off' the walking football craze and it's great to see the slower version of the beautiful game take the UK by storm. When you consider the problems of isolation and inactivity that many people face in old age, walking football is a fantastic antidote.
The key to our sustainability and the home of many of our activities is The Hub. The facility includes a play centre, café, gym, pool, classrooms and office space. We run it as a social business and generate revenue from office leases, meeting rooms and facilitating numerous activities. We built it with funding from the Premier League Community Facility Fund and a loan from Charity Bank.
Our approach to running a social business is in many ways like coaching a winning football team: we have a great team with the right skills, a true passion for what we do and a well thought-out strategy, enabling us to reach our goals.
"When football is used for good it's as glorious as the winning goal scored by your favourite team."John Croot, Chief Executive Officer, Chesterfield FC Community Trust.