A community-minded football club has scored a hat-trick by clinching a three-year sponsorship deal with a housing association.
The Cartrefi Conwy logo now appears on the player’s shirts at Rhyl FC but the support package goes much further than backing the Lilywhites’ Welsh Premier League exploits.
Andrew Bowden, the Chief Executive of Cartrefi Conwy, says the football club has similar values as they both strongly support community engagement.
According to Mr Bowden, they were particularly impressed with the club’s pioneering Strikers’ project which was set up to give unemployed people a shot at a new future.
The scheme has notched up an impressive scoring rate in helping people gain new skills and find work.
Mr Bowden said: “We were impressed with the work Rhyl Football Club does with the community through their Strikers’ project as well as other initiatives.
“The inspirational Strikers’ programme combines football training and fitness with classroom studies. Participants learn literacy and numeracy skills along with motivation and confidence building.
“It’s helping young people learn new skills and making them an attractive proposition for potential employers.”
He added: “Cartrefi Conwy is looking to connect with the communities of Rhyl and Denbighshire and supply new affordable homes for local people. We want to build on the firm foundations put in place by Rhyl Football Club and ourselves.
“I’d encourage our current tenants to get more involved with Rhyl Football Club. The football is great but schemes such as the Strikers Programme really stand out and are worth supporting.
“Cartrefi Conwy will sponsor Rhyl Football Club for the next three seasons and potentially longer.
“We want to build on the foundations of the fantastic community engagement work that’s already going on here at Belle Vue and help our tenants learn new skills and hopefully the new opportunities to find employment.”
Rhyl Football Club managing director Mike Jones, who also works as a social services relief support worker with Flintshire County Council, was thrilled the club has been able to attract sponsors of the pedigree of Cartrefi Conwy.
He said: “I think the Cartrefi Conwy sponsorship shows just what an asset the football club is to the town and how much we have achieved working in partnership with the community.
“Our Strikers’ programme is improving the employability of young adults by bringing them into a learning environment based here at the football club.
“They learn through the language of football and gain a recognised qualification while developing their personal skills and gaining confidence. This helps them find employment.
“The Cartrefi Conwy sponsorship package opens doors to families that we can potentially engage with, initially through football.”
He added: “As well as the Strikers’ programme we also work with some Year 10 and 11 Rhyl High School pupils. These are pupils that find school difficult and are disengaged with their learning environment.
“We bring them to the club and offer a different learning environment. They get to train and work on their fitness alongside numeracy and literacy. And they can leave with a BTec sports qualification too.
“It’s proving a popular and worthy scheme and results have been positive. It’s helped a number of young people overcome their difficulties.”
Mike, who began his long association with Rhyl Football Club as secretary of the supporters’ club in 2004 before becoming general and commercial manager before eventually taking over as managing director in 2012, says the club’s commitment to the community has been recognised in the past.
He said: “In 2013 we were named Welsh Club of the Year for our commitment to community engagement and we are proud to have been granted a Investors in People Award too.
“As a football club we really do want to work closely with the community and help develop young adults. I’m thrilled to be working with Cartrefi Conwy which shares our values. I hope it will be a long and productive association.”
Rhyl Football Club YTS player, Corey Taylor, 17, who lives in Abergele, says working with the community has been an important part of his training.
He said: “I’ve been at Rhyl now for three years and was playing with the Under 19 side for the last two years before breaking into the first team this season. I’m at the football club, along with three other YTS players, three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
“On Tuesday I attend college where I’m studying for an NVQ qualification in customer service with North Wales Training. On the days I’m in the club we work with young people and schools teaching football skills.
“We also run soccer camps for young people during the school holidays too. Community work has formed a very big part of my YTS year, which ends in November.
“I think it’s important to engage with young people and if we can help them learn new skills and improve on literacy and numeracy through their love of football that has to be a good thing.
“I’m pleased the club is now sponsored by Cartrefi Conwy which has similar ideas when it comes to working with communities.”