The restrictions on sport throughout the pandemic have not stopped two East Ayrshire football clubs from keeping busy in the last year, they’ve been going the extra mile to help the local community.
New Farm Loch AFC and Dean Thistle FC were determined to do what they could to help others during lockdown with matches and training not possible. Between them they have raised money for Crosshouse Hospital, delivered food throughout the area and picked up prescriptions among other good deeds.
Both clubs are part of New Farm Community Sport Hub which incorporates two facilities, St Andrews Campus and the William McIlvanney Campus.
The Community Sport Hub (CSH) programme was launched in 2011 by the national agency for sport, sportscotland. Since then sportscotland has been working hard with local authority partners to establish a network of over 200 CSHs across Scotland.
Community sport hubs see club and community organisations working together to understand local needs and extend opportunities for sport and physical activity.
When the pandemic struck in March last year Dean Thistle FC started a food larder to help those in need, with help from East Ayrshire Council they were able to extend the reach by teaming up with another food larder to support the Onthank area. The club soon started doing food deliveries, going to the supermarket for people who weren’t able to go themselves, prescription collections and more recently have started taking people to hospital appointments they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get to.
The club even did wellbeing checks in the area, going to gardens to have a chat with people through the window to see how they were doing.
Meanwhile New Farm Loch AFC had a fundraising event with all proceeds going to Crosshouse Hospital for PPE. Over £3000 was raised, the fundraising was led by club player Marco Pieroni whose sister works in the intensive care unit.
Hub Officer for New Farm Community Sport Hub, Greg Gallagher said: “Since the pandemic started Dean Thistle and New Farm Amateurs, who are connected to the hub, took it upon themselves to support the local community.
“Sport unfortunately had to take a back seat for most of the last year but at the hub we’ve still been doing all we can to stay engaged with our clubs and the community.
“Their work to help people in the area has been ongoing throughout the pandemic, they’ve done really well and I know the people they’ve helped have been extremely grateful.”
James Nimbley of Dean Thistle said: “Dean Thistle Football Club is a community club with the community at the heart of everything we do. Since taking on the asset transfer of the pitch and pavilion, our club has grown so much in a short space of time with support by the New Farm Community Sport Hub and East Ayrshire Council’s Vibrant Communities. Sport has the ability to change lives and we felt that as a club we had the resources to support vulnerable people and families at a local level during the pandemic.
“As restrictions ease we are working with the community sport hub to offer opportunities for our members to get back involved in football. We look forward to continuing to work closely with our Community Sport Hub Officer to develop the club and the wider hub to support more opportunities for participation, volunteering and further education for our community.”