Rick Parry, EFL Chair, hopes the EFL’s first-ever Week of Action will shine a light on the day-to-day impact Clubs have on their communities.
The campaign highlights the incredible work of the 72 EFL Clubs and their Club Community Organisations (CCOs) by celebrating their activity throughout the week.
“It literally does go on every single day at some Clubs,” he said. “By having the Week of Action, it does shine a spotlight. When things are going on all the time, it doesn’t always get noticed and doesn’t always get recognised.
“It’s harder to get good news out there. So, to have focus and remind people of all the good stuff that’s being done, it’s a great opportunity and a very exciting opportunity.”
As the country exited lockdown, EFL Clubs stepped up to lend a hand in their local communities and Parry demonstrated how they have maintained their level of commitment to local activity.
“It went way beyond football,” he explained. “With supporters not being able to attend, everybody was struggling. The work that Clubs did in terms of providing meals for people, in making themselves available as testing centres then vaccination centres.
“Most importantly, all of the mental health issues that came into the spotlight and the work that Clubs were able to do in terms of loneliness; that, for me, was an incredibly important message. Again, coming out of the pandemic, loneliness is an issue that goes on and Clubs have the ability now to bring spectators back in.
“We’ve seen the real importance of Clubs and their communities. Our Clubs interact with a million people per year and every Club makes a great effort. It’s what makes the pyramid special – the place of Clubs in towns and communities right across the country. We’ve got the breadth of geographical coverage.
“Let’s build upon that and not just ignore it but take all of those messages from the pandemic forward. For me, that’s the opportunity in the message. The next few years are years of opportunity for our Clubs.”
Nevertheless, new challenges have since presented themselves during the COVID-19 crisis that Clubs continue to tackle head-on and, according to Parry, they will play a significant part in overcoming these obstacles.
“The world’s a difficult place – the cost of living is rising, energy prices and the terrible events in Ukraine,” he added.
“It does seem we have one challenge after another, but football is definitely a constant. It’s place in the community and the relationship between Clubs and their fans, those are the bonds that are incredibly important.”