Crystal Palace lay the foundations to reach out to the community, both at home and away
Despite enduring Premier League weekends to forget, Crystal Palace boss Ian Holloway and midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi have been keeping things in perspective.
Holloway, who shouldered the blame for the Eagles’ lacklustre 2-0 defeat to Swansea City on Sunday, was at the launch of the CPFC Foundation last week, learning about the work that goes with the club’s charitable arm.
The Foundation aims to improve the community through coaching and mentoring programmes.
Holloway told the Eagle Eye Podcast: “I know how hard people here are working to make the lives of others better. How they have changed the lives of people in need is outstanding.
“We have a lad who was depressed and in prison, who has turned his life around and is now working for us, which is fantastic.”
He added: “The main message I get is that we want to do more, and now we are in the Premier League, and by how the players behave, we are right behind it.”
CPFC Foundation launch: Croydon Councillor Steve O'Connell, David Groves (chairman of the Foundation), Ian Holloway, Vicky Gomersall (Sky Sports presenter) and Donald Forde (head of the Foundation)
David Groves, chairman of the Crystal Palace Foundation, told a packed room that the Foundation’s key aims in its new strategy are growing the game, childhood support, youth and community development, education, employment and business and health and wellbeing.
He also focused on the Foundation’s belief that everyone deserves an opportunity, saying: “I’ve been a life-long supporter and involved for five years and now as chair, why am I here?
“Because many years ago someone gave me a chance in life, a chance to shine, someone believed in me and gave me further education and now I’m a successful businessman.
“I think someone gave me a chance once so if I can give someone a chance and an opportunity in life, I’ve done my job.”
Youth worker Aaron McGrath is the unrecognisable young man that Holloway spoke about.
As a young troublemaker, who ended up in prison following a downward spiral of alcohol, drugs and depression, McGrath credits the Crystal Palace Foundation with literally saving his life.
Aaron, who was introduced to the Foundation as a volunteer by the Princes Trust on his release from prison, said: “I would probably still be in prison, or not alive by now.
“Football has always been my love – the one thing I’ve been passionate about and every single person at Palace has supported me through all the tough times and stuck by me. They have saved my life.”
New life: Aaron McGrath talks about how the CPFC Foundation kept him out of prison, and, moreover, alive
Meanwhile, KG, who saw red at Old Trafford, will be launching the Kagisho Dikgacoi Foundation for underprivileged children in his home country of South Africa next month.
KG hopes to use sport to address issues affecting young South Africans, such as homelessness, while promoting education.
KG said: “We must provide opportunities for young people to participate in positive life experiences.
“We also want to give them the tools to make better and more informed choices, while giving them a better future.”
The foundation will deliver its programmes through four interlinked sectors: The KDF sports programme will implement a football tournament where one outstanding young player will be chosen to go for trials in Europe.
The work in the community programme will encourage communities and leaders to get involved in the programmes by engaging with the homeless and disadvantaged children through sport and assisting them to get their education.
A scholarship fund will provide school fees and upkeep for at least 10 under-privileged children, particularly homeless children who aspire to return to school and complete their education.
Lastly, the KDF enterprise fund will sponsor one sustainable entrepreneurial project annually. The programmes are envisaged to draw widespread participation among the youth, which will encourage social cohesion and dissuade them from engaging in criminal activities.
KG said: “We urge individuals to get involved and support this vision to help us develop sustainable projects and deliver on our promises to the youth and homeless children of South Africa.”
Doing his best: KG may not be playing right now, but he is making a difference
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