November 10, 2008
Reports from around the game, from international matches to the Blue Square South, have demonstrated a worrying trend over the last few weeks. The football hooliganism that all good, true and genuine football supporters had to endure through the seventies and eighties has died and not reared its ugly head to any great extent. Good work by the clubs themselves with the introduction of Health and Safety officers and well trained stewards as helped a lot inside grounds right across the country.
Rival gangs operating in the streets and quite unrelated to the game as such, other than using the occasion of various matches, has caused a concern from time to time. Incidents like these, or rather prospective incidents, have been reported very recently in the Blue Square South. I do not intend to name the two clubs at risk from gang violence because I do not wish to pour fuel on to the fire. In this particular case an unofficial or alternative club website so called was used as a call to arms regarding rival groups from two towns prior to a game between the respective clubs representing them.
Incidents inside grounds have also shown a worrying trend in recent weeks. The abuse given to certain players in the Premier League and also in a World Cup qualifying game involving England was not good. Only last weekend coins were reported to have been thrown at officials in two Premier League games. Fans pay at the turnstiles and are well entitled to their views but this must surely fall short of personal abuse and the throwing of coins.
The vast majority of us wish to see football at all levels thrive and grow. It must be our purpose to cultivate a safe and trouble free environment for the present and future generation of fans, together with officials and players to enjoy the game that we follow so avidly. Football as an entity is capable of doing so much good. Indeed football already does so much good and none more so than the very good work we are doing at Bristol Rovers.
The Bristol Rovers Study Centre is now set up for the 2008-09 academic year. A programme for the first half of the term has been put in place. Children from one secondary school and three primary schools are attending throughout the week. A total in the order of sixty children will be attending programmes at the stadium after schools and in their own time. This term we are very pleased to welcome children from the Metropolitan College , Ashley Down School, Filton Avenue and St Mathias.
The celebration evening will take place at the completion of the six week session during the first week of November. Players and staff and directors will be giving up their time and attending to present the certificates and prizes. The centre is one of twenty two “Playing for Succes” centres operating in the West Region and is recognised for its quality and innovation. Most centres are based at Football League and Blue Square Premier clubs but others are based at a racecourse, professional cricket and rugby clubs.
In the order of 500 children are expected to attend the centre at the stadium over the course of the season. This follows on from an extensive programme that took place during the school summer holidays. Three summer challenges took place with the support of Peter Aitken and Football in the Community. This is an increase from one in the previous two years. Paul Trollope was again involved with meeting the children and setting the challenges.
The first challenge was based at the Memorial Stadium and was described as a movement challenge. Eighteen children from Lockleaze and Ashley Down Primary schools took part. Cheer leading sessions took place with balance and football movement sessions. Bristol Rovers Football in the Community coaches helped out with this one. All children were presented with a DVD of their work.
The second challenge was based at the Whitchurch Indoor Sports Centre. This was a South American themed challenge for secondary school children with children from Bristol Metropolitan Academy, Fairfield and the City Academy taking part. Activities include beach soccer, samba drumming, Brazilian food preparation and mask making. A third Challenge based at Bristol Metropolitan Academy, the former Whitfiled School, was a photography challenge with the theme “My Fishponds, My Bristol.”
The third challenge did involve a group of youngsters on the streets but this time with purpose and pride in their activities. The constructive exercise was designed to engage the children in community and respect for their peers, their heritage and their local football club. A good many thanks to the teachers and support staff at the centre for the very good work they are doing in the name of Bristol Rovers.
On a lighter note it is good to see Gary Lineker wearing the shirt. Twice I think if you are quick enough to catch it in time.