The Foundation's Go Local Project Highlighted for EFL Week of Action

EFL Week of Action branding

Today marks the start of the EFL Week of Action, and to kick the week off we’re highlighting the positive impacts of the Albion Foundation’s Go Local programme.

The EFL Week of Action is an annual campaign which highlights the impressive work by its 72 clubs in their respective communities, with the Go Local project aiming to develop partnerships with local people in Smethwick and surrounding areas.

Go Local is part of the Foundation’s strategy for the next five years and involves building trust and respect with the community, while providing a local offer for local people.

This will hopefully have a positive impact upon the local community, by making local people healthier and happier, better equipped for the future, and more connected with West Bromwich Albion Football Club.

Go Local strategy

The Go Local strategy was developed due to the need for the Foundation's services in the local area, with the Foundation keen to support and re-engage the direct, local community with the club. Community has always been at the forefront of what West Bromwich Albion represent, so it's important the people who live and work around the local area feel part of our family.

A working group was created to approach schools, businesses, community groups and local religious groups, to identify the level of engagement with the club and to gather the thoughts of people in the local community.

It was clear to see there was disengagement between the direct, local community and West Bromwich Albion, with many people expressing that they had never been inside The Hawthorns or been to a game. There was also the thought that there wasn't enough opportunities for young people to take part in football activities in the immediate, local area.

EFL Week of action branding and a picture of our our Go Local session

Initially, the Foundation worked closely with four local community groups - Guru Nanak, Gurdwara Smethwick, Bangladeshi Islamic Centre, Jonata Smethwick- alongside local residents of Smethwick.

They connected with the groups and invited their young participants along to regular evening sessions and activities during the summer holidays, with the majority of participants only accessing football activities during school time. Many of the young participants were shy and timid for the first session and it was clear to see that some may struggle with their confidence. 

Wanting to initiate the message that football is for all regardless of your age, gender, ethnicity or background was the key aim, looking to help the local community to feel engaged with the club and to be part of our one family ethos.

The Go Local sessions have been staffed with a combination of Youth Engagement Coaches, Wellbeing, Behaviour Change and Active Lifestyles staff, with the broad buy in from all departments allowing for a diverse work force on sessions, providing the best level of support to participants. 

EFL Week of Action branding alongside a picture of WBA players visiting a Go Local session

Go Local participants also had the chance to meet several Albion players, including club-captain Jed Wallace, with the players taking part in football activities and a Q & A, and participants also receiving a tour of The Hawthorns.

Following the success of the Go Local sessions, the Foundation rewarded a large amount of participants and their families with tickets to this campaign's Foundation Day fixture against Plymouth Argyle. This was a great celebration that brought all the community groups together to attend an Albion match for the first-time and also take part in a football tournament in the Academy Dome prior to kick-off.

Since the Go Local project begun, many of the participants have grown in confidence and ability, and are now taking part in more community activities, with the opportunity to take part in competitive football. Working with the groups separately and bringing them together for celebration events has allowed for the young people to build and improve interpersonal relationships with friends, adults and people from different backgrounds.

Participants have developed skills, knowledge, increased their confidence and showed an improvement in both physical and mental wellbeing. The young people now feel much more inspired and engaged in their local community and with the club, with many progressing from the Go Local sessions onto some of our other programmes such as Premier League Kicks. 

The Albion Foundation hope to build on these relationships and continue to further inspire and support the local West Bromwich Albion community.

EFL Week of Action branding alongside a picture of Go Local participants at The Hawthorns