Since its inception in 1881, Leyton Orient is recognised as a Community Club, aiming to raise aspiration amongst the communities that it serves. It achieves this by offering the match day experience; access to first class facilities at the Stadium; playing opportunities through the Academy and, via its Community Charity opportunities, to tackle some of the profound social and economic challenges that the communities in East London faces.
The golden thread through all of this focus is the role and contribution that the LOFC players make to realise these goals. Over the past six years the Club and its Charity; the Leyton Orient Trust, have jointly invested in employing a dedicated officer who aims to get the Club engaging with the community, including raising the profile and increasing the impact that the players have. Here are some highlights that illustrates the effectiveness of the Liaison role in particular with increasing the profile of the Club by enabling access to players, free and subsidised tickets and stadium and training ground tours.
We start with the Leyton Orient Partnership of Associated Schools Scheme (LOPASS). This was the fourth successful year for LOPASS, aimed chiefly at primary, but incorporating secondary schools and using the players to engage in such things as: curriculum activities using football as the subject medium; leading PE sessions; presenting awards; and/or participating in Q&A sessions. The scheme continues to evolve and over fifty schools were invited to experience a League Two game at the Matchroom Stadium with complimentary tickets supplied by the club as well as the chance of being selected for a match-day experience whereby pupils were chosen to be flag bearers/guard of honour pre-match or take penalties at half-time. The schools are also offered an opportunity to partake in a stadium tour, a visit to the training ground and a visit from club mascot Theo the Wyvern. To increase the clubs profile, schools are requested to record visits via the schools own newsletters and website including a link to the LOFC website.
The successful 50-50 scheme, introduced a couple of seasons ago, allows schools, community groups, sports teams, charities and similar the chance to purchase reduced rate match tickets in an effort to raise funds for a specific project of their choosing. The more they sell the more they make as proceeds are evenly split 50-50 between themselves and the club. Once a match date has been agreed upon, LOFC players are assigned to visit the school and help promote the game/selling of tickets. The scheme also provides the chance for flag bearers/penalty takers at the game.
The players also continued with annual Christmas visits to the children’s wards at local hospitals Whipps Cross and Homerton as well as frequent visits to hospice partners St. Joseph’s in Hackney and the Haven House Children’s hospice in Woodford, Dean Cox in particular continuing his association there for his sixth season!
Many and varied charities were also supported including; Kick It Out, Show Racism the Red Card, Know the Score, the White Ribbon Campaign, Bart’s Kids, Dementia Friends, Age Concern and Family Action to name but a few. Players support by attending workshops, wearing t-shirts and promoting the good causes. Leyton Orient Trust projects were visited by their ex-student Sandro Semedo!
Other examples of the wide-ranging appointments that the players attended include: disability and 50+ groups, junior football tournaments, stadium tours and welcoming school and community groups to the training ground.
The players managed almost 200 visits over the course of the season, a tremendous effort. Once the squad is in place and the fixtures are out, the appointments begin again!
For more highlights of the player’s season in the community, please check out the notice board adjacent to turnstile ‘H’ in Oliver Road.