Whilst we get caught up in the “will we/won`t we” get into the play-offs this season debate, there is another side to QPR many of us have overlooked: the work the Club does in the local community in and around West London.
Rangers have been running a scheme known as “Football in the Community” and I am sure we all read the blurb in the matchday programme which told us what the Rs were doing and with which local groups. Recently, the Club changed the status of this scheme, turning it into a registered charity (I believe that this offers financial advantages which will benefit the charity and, therefore, the Community; but as I`m no financial expert/Accountant I stand to be corrected on that point!)
Last month, on 17th February to be precise, the Club launched the “QPR In The Community Trust”, with QPR Holdings Vice Chairman, Amit Bhatia, as Chairman. The launch took place at the House of Lords and, amongst others, Gareth Ainsworth and all of the first team squad attended, along with trustees and MPs from the boroughs the Trust covers.
The concept of this type of scheme is to use football to reach out to children of all ages and all backgrounds, using the motivation, inspiration, encouragement and even connections that sport in general generates to change people`s lives in a positive and meaningful way.
I read about this launch on the QPR website and in the programme for the Ipswich game. But, even though there is a picture of Gazza and Amit, along with faces I do not recognise (although one could possibly be Fitz Hall!), holding a cheque; what wasn`t made clear by the Club was the fact the players themselves have given a donation of their own money – putting their money, so to speak, where their collective mouths are. I found this out thanks to an article put out by the Football League!
At the launch, Gareth Ainsworth presented the cheque for the sum of £8,000, which came from the players themselves and Lee Cook admitted to the Ealing Gazette that: “The players were more than happy to help. It`s a big thing for the club – especially the players. It is important that the club reaches out to people. It can play a big role in the community.”
I have always known that footballers do give up some of their personal time to go out and about within their local communities – we all remember pictures of past Rangers` players in the Children`s Wards of the local hospitals, particularly at Christmas time. But this gesture, of reaching into their own wallets as well as giving up their time, has gone largely unnoticed by the QPR faithful.
So I would like to bring this to everyone`s attention! The players and the Club are doing their bit – we should try, where possible, to do ours!
I will let Amit Bhatia`s words speak for themselves: “As a club, we need to do the best that we can do and give as much back to the community as we can. The trust will be a community service. I think we’re doing a very good job already but we’ll move forward and get involved in many more interesting things.”
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