Sport has the power to unite. As we’ll all have seen by now, the way the entire football community rallied round Leicester City and those affected by the tragic helicopter crash last month showed that the game goes well beyond 22 players kicking a ball round on a Saturday afternoon.
That tragic event happened after I had already planned to write this piece, but it certainly put everything in perspective. The amount of good the Leicester chairman had done for local charities, hospitals, and families went largely under the radar and is well worthy of praise. Sports teams up and down the UK do their bit for charity, making the most of their public figures and allegiance from thousands of fans to create positive change.
Whilst on a totally different scale, the University of St Andrews Men’s Football Club have continued to demonstrate their desire to not only be inclusive but reach out into the community and make a real contribution.
After wearing rainbow laces for a fixture last season to show their support for the LGBT+ community, club members wore their strips inside out for the Sports Fayre in September to show their support for the mental health charity If U Care Share. The idea behind it is that mental health issues and suicide turn people’s lives inside out, and by wearing the strips inside out, the players were standing in solidarity with those suffering, too often in silence.
Club President Josh Brooks said that it was an idea they were more than happy to get behind, saying, “If U Care Share are a great charity and I think suicide prevention and mental health are huge issues that we were keen on raising awareness for in our own way.”
Since then, the club have continued to demonstrate their desire to help those less fortunate than themselves. Most recently this took the form of a collection for the local food bank, Storehouse. The collection took place at the club’s social where players were required to bring an item of food to donate as entry. According to Brooks, it couldn’t have gone much better.
“The players were fantastic with it and several brought a bag of stuff as opposed to just one item which I think shows that the idea was something that the boys wanted to get on board with.”
The Football Club is supporting Storehouse Fife at our social at this evening.
Entry to the social costs one item of food which goes towards the St Andrews foodbank based on Largo Road. With winter on its way, we encourage as many people as possible to give to Storehouse 🔵⚪️⚽️ pic.twitter.com/PXTNNbzOuk
— Saints Football (@UStAFootball) October 17, 2018
Brooks added that when they went to the food bank the following afternoon with the collection, they were “delighted.” He also made a point of saying that the club will be aiming to do two collections per semester, with a heavy emphasis on doing one before Christmas because as the cold sets in, it can be the time when more people turn to the food bank in need of support.
When I asked Brooks whether he thought sports clubs in general had a unique power to do good, his answer was a resounding yes.
“I think as such a large club with an active membership we are in a great position to do some good, and I think it is our responsibility to do so. For any of us at St Andrews, we are in a position where we can help others and it really doesn’t take much to make a difference.”
This has already been, like many seasons are, a season of transition for the club. With new coaches for a few of the squads and a lot of last season’s players now graduated, the onus was once again on the club’s fresher intake to integrate well and help the club continue to develop and grow.
Brooks was quick to point out that the Freshers have bedded in “fantastically” and that the club currently have six men’s squads playing regular competitive football within the BUCS system in addition to their development side.
Whilst deadlines are now coming thick and fast, and the temperatures are rapidly dropping, Brooks hoped that people would continue to come out and support the football team and all other University sports clubs in their Wednesday fixtures and that the club would continue to do their bit for the local community. He also said that should anyone want to get involved, it’s not too late, and that the development team is the best place to start as they’re always looking for more members and more competition for places.
With all the good they’ve done already, support on a Wednesday is the least the club deserve.