By John Lyons
Chairman Kevin Hake says he was ‘blown away’ after Chatham Town won the prestigious Football Foundation Community Club of the Year award.
The Southern Counties East League outfit clearly captured the hearts of NLP readers, who voted the Chats as the top team in their community.
The Step 5 outfit have stepped up to the plate with a wide-ranging programme of activities and have gone the extra mile with their efforts in these coronavirus-hit times.
Whether it’s calling to check on fans, collecting or delivering food, running errands, focusing on mental health or holding fitness clubs, the Kent club have tried their level best.
And winning The NLP accolade is recognition that all their hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Chairman Hake said: “It’s a fantastic honour and it’s testament to everyone involved at the club who has tried to help people in troubled times. It’s lovely to be recognised – I’m blown away by it.
“When we took over two years ago, we wanted to show that the power of sport can change people’s lives. On the pitch we want to climb up the leagues, but what we do off the pitch gives me equal pleasure as winning three points.”
And Hake believes the club have only reached ‘the tip of the iceberg’ in what they can go on to achieve. “We are trying to appeal to as many people as we can,” he added. “We have a lot of volunteers at the club and some paid employees and they want to make a difference.
We are delighted to announce we have been voted the Football Foundation Community Club of the Year in the @NonLeaguePaper ?
Thankyou to everyone who voted for us and rest assured we intend to build on this on this to further reach out and help our community #UpTheChats ???? pic.twitter.com/19Ym7rUvQM
— Chatham Town FC (@ChathamTownFC) June 21, 2020
“We’re not just concentrating on our football supporters, we’re focusing on the wider community. If an elderly person in the community needs help, it doesn’t matter if they support Chatham Town or not – we want to help them.
“We have a growing sense of community spirit – in my opinion it’s never been stronger – and our attendances have gone up as a result. This will grow and grow. The two things go hand in hand.”
As for the variety of things they do, the 44-year-old construction consultant gave some examples.
“We hold mental health seminars and offer counselling, during lockdown the directors and committee were all ringing up elderly supporters and young ones in danger of mental health problems to keep in touch,” he explained.
“We also run free fit clubs and get over 300 people a week. Recently we did online sessions and now it’s starting up again, with government guidance. Everyone is buzzing to get back.”
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