AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has spoken of how visits to the community keep his star players grounded.
The Cherries boss was keynote speaker at the annual Chairman’s Luncheon held at the club’s Vitality Stadium.
Eddie told his audience of businesspeople in the Bubbles Champagne Lounge: “Being a Premier League player is a wonderful thing, but it’s like a bubble and you are wrapped in your own existence where everything is done for you.
“Going out into the community, particularly to a school, is really one of the few times players get to see life from another viewpoint – sometimes it can really ground them and it is very important that they are grounded and see different things in life.
“Also, there is the ability to give back to other people, making a difference to their lives. That feeling is huge for the players and they get a real buzz from it. All round, it is hugely beneficial.”
Eddie was speaking as part of a question and answer session, alongside Cherries Chairman Jeff Mostyn and Head of Community Steve Cuss, presented by Player Liaison officer Jimmy Glass.
The AFC Business event was on the theme of the club’s equality, diversity and inclusion and hosted by Jeff and sponsored by chartered accountants and business advisors Hill Osborne, AFC Business Official Partners for nine years.
Jeff spoke of the club’s Everyone Together campaign which celebrates the club’s diverse fan base, culminating in a video featuring 22 supporters explaining how AFC Bournemouth positively affects their lives.
“Equality, diversity and inclusion are so important to us. We have made such incredible inroads in the work we have to do and we have had many accolades bestowed upon us. It is all well and good ticking boxes but you have to actually do something about it – and we like to think we do.
“Everybody at the club has bought into this full inclusion programme. I don’t think there is any community sports trust attached to a Premier League club that succeeds like ours, but there is still a long way to go.”
Steve spoke of how the club’s community department had grown from 12 members of staff when the club entered the Premier League to 28 full-timers and 11 part-timers today, and how the quantity and quality of projects boosted by the Premier League partnership.
“I am proud of the projects we deliver. We have always prided ourselves on being a community club and what we’ve got here is a real local feel – with 4,000 people getting involved with us every week.”
Steve mentioned the many teams now playing under the AFC Bournemouth banner – from powerchair and walking football to girls and women’s sides with an elite development pathway to professional status for the very best.
Eddie, who is in his second spell as AFC Bournemouth manager having first taken charge in December 2008, added that that core values ran right through the club – a club where everyone was included, friendly people, friendly staff, a family feel.
“I felt it absolutely vital that when we went through the leagues we did not lose that – or lose our ability to go out into the community and schools and to bring people into the training ground on a regular basis. It is crucial never to think that we are too big for that now.”
AFC Business, the free to join business club with almost 1,800 members, is the engine for all the club’s commercial activities.
It was launched in 2009 and gives members exclusive offers at AFC Bournemouth, access to events and is a great chance to meet local businesses.
For further information about the business club, email your details to Aysia Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.