One thing that we try to maintain whatever the results on the pitch, is the consistency of our community involvement utilising the players and it’s pleasing to say that even with the comings, goings and disruptions over the last season and a half, the players contributions have continued to excel.
It should be noted also that all the managers during this period have fully supported the community side of the club’s work and agree that the players play a huge role in promoting the club when appearing at the many and varied appointments and venues allocated, usually on a weekly basis.
Some engagements can be difficult emotionally, for example when visiting our partners Haven House Children’s Hospice in Woodford and St. Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney, and special mention must go to Dean Cox for his on-going commitment to Haven House having visited there on numerous occasions throughout his six seasons with the club.
Others can be a little more predictable like a visit to a primary school to answer questions from eager school children as they clamber for a photo and autograph but all play an important part in bringing the club and community together. After all, it’s these very youngsters that we’re trying to entice to be our supporters of the future!
Lately, more schools have been asking for players to help with some curriculum subjects and projects that pupils may be involved in, for instance, helping with reading or media studies as Blair Turgott, Jobi McAnuff and Alan Dunne found out recently and due to the diversity of requests it’s important to know the players and what they are comfortable with when it comes to dealing with the public away from the field of play.
It’s fair to say, however we perceive them, the players are human after all and all have differing personalities and abilities when it comes to being the centre of attention albeit in a completely disparate environment and so it’s important they are directed accordingly and that’s where my job becomes significant.
Compared to a few years ago, I’m pleased to say that there is now a realisation amongst the players themselves that their community appearances are vital in simply increasing Leyton Orient awareness and creating a bond within the various and assorted groups that surround the club.
For those who follow the player’s activities in the community, they would notice that the range is considerable. From primary schools to colleges; hospitals and hospices; sports days; quiz nights; even shop openings and the occasional birthday surprise. From youth teams to disability groups; ethnic minorities and sessions for the aged. The list is boundless. And I’m pleased to say all are carried out with the professionalism you’d expect from a representative of this wonderful community club of ours.
Howard Gould – Community Liaison Officer