Today marks the end of an era as Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT) sadly say goodbye to their chief operating officer Matt Parish.

19 years in the making, Matt’s tenure at CACT comes to an end as he moves north with the family and takes on a new challenge as director of education & inclusion at Burnley FC in the Community.

Matt began working with what was known as the Football in the Community Scheme (FITC) on a full-time basis in September 1997 when appointed assistant FITC officer. 10 years later, Matt became manager of the scheme as it moved under the Charlton Athletic Community Trust title, before being appointed community director in December 2008 where he was responsible for line managing full time staff and all of CACT’s service level delivery.

It was in July 2014 when Matt then became chief operating officer at CACT, the position he leaves today.

Off to new pastures, Matt said the following about his time at CACT lasting nearly two decades.

“Deciding to move on from CACT was a very tough decision, he said.

“I grew up in south east London and to have played a part in building the community programme at CAFC into one of the biggest in the country is something I’m immensely proud of and also feel privileged to have had the opportunity to do.

“I’ve had great support over the years and have been lucky to work with and meet some amazing people.

“What I do know is that CACT makes a huge difference to the lives of thousands of people in south east London and Kent and this great work will continue.’’

Under Matt’s management, many of CACT’s projects were not just successful, but became the benchmark for football charities in the UK and abroad. This included CACT’s presence in South Africa from 2003 - 2010 where Matt worked tirelessly to start and develop projects with special responsibility for its development in Cape Town. CACT’s partner club, Ajax Cape Town FC, are still running a community scheme using the Charlton model today.

Matt then played a big role in helping CACT become the first football club charity in the UK to be commissioned by a local authority to run the borough’s youth service when being awarded the contract by Royal Greenwich in 2012 and then re-commissioned in 2015.

Based in West Kent, Matt was also a big driver in what was then called the Kent Social Inclusion project. Working with around 12,000 young people across Kent per month at its peak, it was one of the biggest of its kind and involved a partnership between CACT, the football club, Kent County Council, district council’s and the police among others.

CACT CEO Jason Morgan said Matt was instrumental in its success over the last 19 years as he says goodbye to his right hand man.

“I must admit, it will take a while to get used to Matt not being in the office anymore, he said.

“We’ve been able to build a very strong working relationship together over the last 19 years and I have no hesitation in saying he has played a huge role in CACT’s success.

“Although it’s sad he’s leaving us for a new position, it’s pleasing to know he is staying within the industry where he can continue to have a positive influence at Burnley FC in the Community.

“I can’t thank him enough for his time and effort and on behalf of everyone at CACT, I wish him and his family all the best for the future”.

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