Five teenage Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT) participants performed a range of Charlton Athletic Women matchday roles at the first ever London Borough of Bexley Partnership game at The Oakwood in Crayford on Sunday 5 February. The match was also Charlton Athletic Women’s dedicated Football v Homophobia fixture.
Molly, Libby, Amy, Sidratu and Rebecca, all from the London Borough of Bexley, spent the day volunteering with a range of matchday duties. These included preparing kit for the squad, moving matchday equipment around, operating turnstiles to facilitate entry for Bexley residents who made the most of a ticket offer, distributing matchday programmes, and supervising the game’s young mascots.
The group were also tasked with choosing the player of the match. They went for goalkeeper Sian Rogers, who made a string of saves to keep a vital clean sheet. Pre-match, they had met and agreed player of the match criteria with Manager Karen Hills.
The participants, who take part in CACT’s Premier League Kicks and Bexley Targeted programmes, were presented with vouchers by defender Hannah Godfrey on behalf of London Borough of Bexley to thank them for their participation.
Molly Muirhead, 17, said:
“It’s crazy to see what happens behind the scenes; all the work and effort that goes into the matches.
“For us to be able to help out and have that little achievement to say we’ve done something and given someone a little bit of help is amazing and for us, as young people to be able to be there in the changing rooms I think is a good opportunity.”
14-year-old Sidratu Marah said:
“I feel like it's a good experience and it’s a good way for us to find out other jobs [at a football club] other than being a footballer, you can see behind the scenes. I didn’t realise how many jobs there were.”
Kim Dixson, CACT’s Social Inclusion/Kicks Mentoring Manager, said:
“At CACT we’re keen to provide as many development opportunities as we can for young people in the areas we deliver. When the London Borough of Bexley and Charlton Athletic Women came together to offer this experience for some of our participants, we jumped at the chance and felt it was a natural fit given our partnership with both organisations.
“It’s great for our young people to see another side to football and how many different careers there are within the sport while also developing key life skills.”
Natasha Goodman, Charlton Athletic Women’s Kit Person, who was assisted by the young volunteers on the day, said:
“[It] was lovely having the girls help me out Sunday. They all got stuck in and helped lay out all the kit including match tops and kit rolls they also undone the kit rolls. They helped put all the medical equipment in the correct place help with the equipment that goes match side. [They] also came with me to meet the ref and officials and took the sub board to them.
“I would like to thank them all for their extremely hard work and would recommend them all to anyone in football if that's a career path they would to choose.”
Saejal Wadsworth, London Borough of Bexley's Children and Young People’s Commissioner, said:
“We’re proud to work with CACT to provide a range of opportunities to young people in Bexley, and we were pleased to support this Charlton Athletic Women match on 5 February, the first ever Bexley Partnership Day.
“Bexley linking up with CACT and Charlton Athletic Women saw the opportunity for residents to attend the match but also for five young participants from the Borough to play a key role on the day and gain experience of operations on a professional club’s matchday.”
Charlton Athletic Women won the match through a late goal from substitute Alex Hennessy in front of a record season attendance of 556.