With Blackpool Football Club reaching the League One Play-Off finals there is an extra special feel around the club and community, none more so than our participants who take part in our Walking Football, Unified & Forces Football programmes and students from our Blackpool FC Sports College.
On Sunday 23rd May 2021, participants were invited to take part in their beloved sessions on the pitch at Bloomfield Road, which for some was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The Sunday morning consisted of several football matches being played on the pitch, offering the opportunity for the participants to walk out through the tunnel to the beautiful view of tangerine and out onto the turf of Bloomfield Road. For some, being able to play on the pitch and score a goal meant the world to them. Numerous photos and videos were taken from participants who were in awe of the fact they were actually taking part in activities on the pitch of their much-loved local football club.
Sue Whitely, a Unified participant mentioned, "it was a fantastic experience to be playing on Bloomfield Road and it was an honour to play on the pitch with my team mates who I play with on a weekly basis".
Not only were our participants offered this wonderful opportunity, but our volunteers attended to help with the event, arranging and refereeing fixtures. Toby, a valued volunteer who helps with our Unified sessions stated "The day was a great success as it was clear to see all participants who came, from their respective communities, enjoyed playing on the pitch of the club they all love. After knowing a few of these lads for quite a while now, it made me feel proud being able to help set up such an amazing experience for them and for the other groups I got to meet". Toby is also a student at Blackpool FC Sports College.
Nathan Davies, Community Engagement Team Leader at Blackpool Football Club Community Trust said, "It is a very exciting time at the football club and to be given the chance to provide our participants with this opportunity is such an amazing gesture from the club. The participants were all extremely grateful to the Community Trust and the Football Club for putting on the event. A lot of our participants are BFC supporters and to see their faces walking out the tunnel was a very humbling moment".
As part of the take over we also held an eleven a-side internal football fixture for our Blackpool FC Sports College Football Academy students. The game was played in a fantastic manner, with lots of goals in a 4-4 thriller and a man of match performance from Shea Boyle scoring two thrilling goals on the day.
The afternoon was a huge success with thirty of our students taking part in the match and many of them being Blackpool FC fans.
It was a particularly special day for Charlie Smith, a current second year pupil studying his BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sport, “I’m a lifelong Blackpool fan and go to all our games. I’ve never been able to walk down the tunnel at Bloomfield Road, never mind play on the pitch. I’m so grateful I had this opportunity. It’s a dream come true and something I’ll always remember.”