AFC Wimbledon’s Active Womble Summer Scheme has been warmly received in the community – and it meant that The Dons had extra support for Saturday’s game against Accrington Stanley.
Children from the project at the Phipps Bridge Community Centre gained their first experience of an AFC Wimbledon match day after being handed free tickets from the foundation coaching staff.
That comes after a successful first two weeks to the project that has involved children participating in multi-sports events and arts classes, plus enjoying tasty meals – all for free.
Young Dons Jack Rudoni and Finlay Macnab popped along to the facility on Thursday to show off their football skills, and meet disadvantaged children.
Speaking about the response to the project, AFC Wimbledon Foundation’s Kasha Petit said: “We’ve had multi-sports for all the children to enjoy, arts and crafts, and drama classes.
“Each day the children get to select what they want to do and they also get food at lunch-time. We’ve had themes running throughout the week, including showing respect and teamwork.
“We are still building their skills while they are off school.
“We’ve started off with 60 children in the first two weeks. There will be another 60 for the next two-week block and we are getting a lot of interest from parents wanting their children to be put on the waiting list.
“We’ve had a lot of good feedback from the parents of children involved.
They’ve said that it’s provided positive opportunities for their children and allowed them to try new things. We’ve been able to put on creative arts, offering a chance for children to express themselves.
“I think parents have really warmed to it and as a pilot scheme they are already asking about next year.
“Some of the children are actually coming to their first Wimbledon match at the
weekend. That’s building up towards our move to Plough Lane, which is not too far from here.
“A lot of the adults are now hopefully going to be AFC Wimbledon supporters and they are really looking forward to the new stadium coming into the area.”
Parent Sarah Donohue said: “My daughter Sky has thoroughly enjoyed herself and she cannot wait to come back every day!.
“She’s been playing football, volleyball and basketball, as well as doing arts and plenty of other activities.”
Nathan Bisnouth, from The Teachers Voice, has put together a podcast with
the children about the experiences.
“I have been here with the children and we’ve been recording a podcast, developing their oracy skills, helping them to become better speakers,” said Nathan.
“The podcast has recorded them talking about what they’ve been doing this week,
including the teamwork skills that they’ve learned. It was really interesting to hear about how they’ve developed during the week.”
Finlay Macbab, who scored for the first-team in a pre-season match against Crystal Palace, said: “I remember when I was younger that me and my younger brother used to be involved in something similar to this during the holidays.
“It’s a massive thing to represent AFC Wimbledon and be able to meet the kids, who have been asking me what it’s like to be a footballer.”
Jack Rudoni said: “It’s brilliant to see a club like ours, which is fan-based, get all the local kids out to play some football as it gets them out the house, and keeps them active.
When I was younger I was always active, but I had football. It’s nice for the club to be putting on stuff for them to do.”
The scheme has been possible thanks to a fundraising response from Wimbledon
supporters, plus community groups.
A total of £5,000 was donated by supporters at the AFC Wimbledon Foundation Day – the Accrington Stanley match in April – and there was a very generous £5,000 contribution from a supporter who wishes to remain anonymous.
The Taylor Family Foundation provided a generous grant to support the
arts-based activities and Waitrose Wimbledon donated £500 to sports kit and providing staff volunteers. Merton council and leader Stephen Alambritis kindly allowed the facilities at the youth centre to be used free.
Random House Books provided literature for the children to read.