The divisional winners for the EFL Community Awards 2023 have been announced, recognising the outstanding commitment and ground-breaking work delivered by Clubs and players to communities this season.
Wigan Athletic, Plymouth Argyle and Swindon Town are the 2023 divisional winners of the EFL Community Club of the Season Award, having demonstrated a variety of innovative schemes that are making a positive difference to people’s lives.
In the past year, Latics’ community work has reached over 11,000 people and played a key role in building a legacy to the Women’s Euros 2022. Plymouth Argyle’s Project 35 has seen 30,000 meals provided to those in need and over 2.6 tonnes of food donated to local food banks in response to the cost-of-living crisis. Swindon Town’s commitment to integrate and support refugees in the area set them apart from other Clubs in League Two, using football as a force for good to build connections and drive positive change.
Accolades for EFL Player in the Community, sponsored by the PFA, go to Rotherham United’s Hakeem Odoffin in the Championship, George Edmundson of Ipswich Town in League One and for the second year running Omar Beckles took the top spot in League Two.
Odoffin has been recognised for his brilliant attitude and willingness to give up his time to connect with local young people through the Rotherham United Community Trust. In League One, George Edmundson’s role as disability ambassador for Ipswich Town impressed the judges – the centre-back has attended all of the disability team’s matches and even funded each player’s kit. Leyton Orient’s Omar Beckles took the top spot for League Two, for his outstanding commitment to community work which has seen the player actively involved in youth mentoring and intervention programmes.
The judging panel were unanimous in their votes for EFL Community Project of the Season which recognises the most innovative and impactful projects. In the Championship this award went to Stoke City for its ‘Keep Stoke Smiling’ project – an oral health initiative which has reached 11,000 children in 74 local primary schools. In League One, it was MK Dons for its anti-violence and knife crime education programme, Knife Angel. Both visual and impactful, the project has reached over 45,000 individuals and saw 293 knives being surrendered during a one month period. In League Two, Doncaster Rovers’ pioneering pre and post-natal scheme, Fit Families, is the first of its kind in the EFL and is providing much needed support to families facing high levels of deprivation.
The achievements of the shortlisted Clubs and players will be marked during an event hosted in Parliament on 17 April, with one overall winner for each category to be revealed at the star-studded EFL Awards in London on 23 April.
With more than 80 per cent of the population in England and Wales living within 15 miles of an EFL Club, the League’s network of 72 Clubs are at the very heart of the communities. The impact these Clubs have on their communities goes way beyond the 90 minutes on the pitch with Clubs delivering a portfolio of community schemes in response to issues such as obesity, food poverty, loneliness, education and unemployment.
As evidenced in the ‘Measuring the Impact of EFL Clubs in the Community’ report launched earlier this year, during the 2021/22 season, EFL Clubs and their CCOs generated over £865m of social value to towns and cities across the country through community programmes and delivered over 580,000 hours of community events and activities.
Trevor Birch, CEO of the EFL, said: “Our Clubs and their Club Community Organisations play an integral role in their communities, responding to the ever-changing needs of local people at an unprecedented scale. Last season alone, our Clubs and CCOs engaged over 840,000 people and generated more than £101m for community investment. It’s an honour and privilege to celebrate this outstanding work in Parliament.”
EFL Community Divisional Winners
EFL Community Club of the Season
Championship: Wigan Athletic
League One: Plymouth Argyle
League Two: Swindon Town
EFL Community Project of the Season
Championship: Stoke City – Keep Stoke Smiling
League One: Milton Keynes Dons – Knife Angel: anti-violence project
League Two: Doncaster Rovers – Fit Families: pre & post-natal courses
EFL Player in the Community, sponsored by the PFA
Championship: Hakeem Odoffin, Rotherham United
League One: George Edmundson, Ipswich Town
League Two: Omar Beckles, Leyton Orient
Overall winners will be announced at the EFL Awards on Sunday 23 April.