As always, Reading Football Club has been active in the community we serve in March. Here's a small taste of the variety of activities we have been up to recently connecting the club with its fans and its town ...
Royals go red for Red Nose Day
On 15th March, the Royals first team went red for Red Nose Day! José Gomes’ squad trained in our limited-edition charity red kit, out on the pitches, in the gym or even for those with our physiotherapists in rehab.
Every player signed their individual shirt to allow the club to auction each one in aid of Comic Relief.
Our Women’s team followed suit on Red Nose Day and all worn, signed shirts were listed on eBay to raise thousands of pounds for the charity.
A special mention to one of our young #Royals! Jack incredibly donated £235 of his own savings to @comicrelief for his favourite player's shirt...— Reading FC (@ReadingFC) March 30, 2019
And @Yaks75 surprised him by presenting it personally! 👏#OneReading pic.twitter.com/enTgjmATOd
Our Academy didn’t miss out either; our Under-9 and Under-11 squads were surprised when they wore red and gold for games against Southampton that weekend, donning the limited edition Comic Relief strip in match action.
Meanwhile, away from the club, the red strip has also had an impact at grassroots level thanks to local side Arborfield Aces; the East Berks Football Alliance club purchased a number of kits for some of their young players when they went on sale at the start of the month - and they were soon worn in competitive action!
The Aces’ Under-9s, who normally play in red and black, wore their shirts in a thrilling away win against Reading City. So, thanks to this initiative, the Reading crest is now proudly being worn by young budding footballers of the future learning their trade within kicking distance of our Hogwood Park training ground.
Hopes of victory tossed down the pan
Four of our Academy's brightest stars were flipped out of a charity pancake race on Shrove Tuesday following a controversial dead heat decision made by Royals fan and former X Factor contestant, Danyl Johnson!
The annual Launchpad pancake race is an eggstraordinary event that has been run on Broad Street for more than 20 years; teams from local businesses batter it out, egged on by cheering crowds in a relay race with frying pans in hand and fancy dress encouraged.
And the coveted frying pan trophy seemed to be within our Academy boys' grasp as they coasted through the knock-out heats, tossing pancakes along Broad Street as they went.
However, scholars Jeriel Dorsett, Josh Hewitt, Ethan Bristow and Kian Leavy took defeat on the chin as eventual winners, MFG Group, pipped us to the finishing line in the semi-finals following a dead heat and judge Johnson’s controversial ruling.
Acting as great ambassadors for the club, the quartet representd Reading Football Club excellently to place the Royals at the heart of a community event designed to raise funds and awareness of a charity which helps some of Reading’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged people to turn their lives around and fulfil their potential.
Level Playing Field and Kick It Out support
Reading Football Club were delighted to support the 2019 Level Playing Field (LPF) Weeks of Action and Kick It Out at our last home fixture.
Ahead of our exhilarating win over Wigan, our mascots Kingsley and Queensley wore Level Playing Field t-shirts as were our ball persons team, while the LPF flag was waved in our customary pre-match photos with the club captains, officials and mascots.
We also welcomed hundreds of students and staff from SEN schools, who work with the Reading FC Community Trust, to watch the thrilling 3-2 win.
And last weekend, the win over Preston North End was also our designated Kick It Out match.
This season marks the 25-year anniversary of Kick It Out and there was plenty of awareness-raising activity going on inside the stadium bowl, including a Kick It Out captain's armband being worn by both Liam Moore and subsequently Paul McShane.
The organisation has been at the heart of the drive towards equality, inclusion and cohesion for everyone who plays, watches or works in football. But the high-profile incidents that have marred football this season prove the sport needs an organisation like Kick It Out now more than ever.
Sue's story on International Women's Day
Football is a team game. Not just the 11 on the pitch, but the wider team. And at Reading Football Club, we can proudly say that many vital roles across the club are fulfilled by women,
This month, we celebrated International Women’s Day by hearing from Club Secretary Sue Hewett about her vast experience during her time with the Royals.
With more than two decades’ experience working for the club, in close quarters to players and managers at the training ground, there are few people who know more about Reading Football Club than Sue.
One of our true unsung heroes, her article on the official website was published on Friday 8th March, telling some of the tales from our Elm Park era through to the present day…and all the ups and downs along the way.
Community Trust work takes centre stage on EFL Day of Action
Social inclusion is at the heart of what Reading FC Community Trust does. And on the EFL’s ‘Day Of Action’, we highlighted the pathway that Trust coach Dan Walker took to become a full-time member of staff with our club's charitable arm.
Dan runs Kicks sessions, as well as multi-sport activities and mentoring to many young people around Reading, Berkshire and the Thames Valley area. And his route is a casestudy in point. Originally an attendee of Kicks as a teenager, it was coming along to the sessions which allowed him to flourish.
On #EFLDayOfAction, we also highlighted some of the key work that our Community Trust does in our local area; working across our key pillars of health, education, social inclusion and sports participation.
And Royals defender Omar Richards made a surprise visit to join in with a group of 16 to 19-year-olds taking part in our Community Trust’s Traineeship programme.
Many 'Meet The Players' at the Madejski
We were delighted to welcome 400 local children from ten schools and grassroots clubs to Madejski Stadium last week to give them the chance to meet the Royals first team stars and thank them for their support this season.
In total, 17 players from our men’s and women’s first team took to the stage in the Princess Suite, taking questions from the children on an enjoyable evening for all.
Chief Executive, Nigel Howe, addressed the audience and thanked our young Royals for their support of their local side, before introducing the evening, manager José Gomes and the players.
The children were invited to the event thanks to their success in using our Schools & Grassroots Ticketing Scheme to attend Madejski Stadium matches this season.
Not only did the youngsters get to hear from their footballing heroes, each group was given the chance to have a photo with the squad and get their Royals memorabilia signed.
We will keep up our involvement in the community in April, connecting our town and doing our bit to bring the football club to its supporters.