Slideshow: Celebrity relaunch for Norwich City charity

Sporting personalities and leading Norfolk figures have thrown their support behind the Norwich City Football Club charity which promotes sport and its benefits.

As the scale of local and central government cuts have become clearer, the newly rebranded Norwich City Community Sports Foundation, is hoping to attract new sponsors and funds as well as promote the important work they do.

Eight ambassadors, including high-profile BBC personality Jake Humphrey, who recently presented BBC Sports Personality of the Year and comes from Norfolk, and former Norwich players Iwan Roberts and Dean Ashton, have agreed to champion the charity, which already helps around 50,000 of the most disadvantaged, disabled and talented people across Norfolk through sport.

The foundation, formerly known as Football in the Community, unveiled a new website and named the eight ambassadors and six new board members at a relaunch event at Carrow Road yesterday.

Football in the Community was established in 1992 in partnership with the Norfolk County Football Association and Norwich City Football Club and initially worked with schools. It has since widened its scope and now promotes health, sport education, community cohesion and works with people of all ages and ability levels.

Norwich City director Delia Smith, who is among the eight newly appointed ambassadors, said: 'I've watched Football In the Community growing over the years that I've been here. It's something that we are really very very proud of.

'I think the ethos of this club is community. We are in the heart of Norfolk, we are in the heart of the community and that's what football is actually really about.

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'It's a wonderful sport, it's a beautiful game and it binds people together in the community, especially young people.

'I've always thought that if there was more football and if football was supported more at the lower level then there would be less crime.'

She admitted that it was going to be a challenge in the current climate, but said: 'I think it's going to be tough, but I just hope everybody will respond.

'There are some very wealthy companies in Norfolk,' she added.

Fellow ambassador, former Norwich City captain Craig Fleming, said: 'I want to get out there doing talks and telling people how football changed my life. To be honest, anything they throw at me I'll give it a go.

'Most clubs do this, but it's not done on such a scale in the community. That's what makes Norwich so special and why players keep coming back.

'It's a difficult time financially, there is no getting away from that, but knowing Norfolk as I do now, I'm pretty sure it will work.'

Chairman Kevan Platt said: 'What we wanted to do was to make as many people in the county, whether individuals or businesses, aware of exactly what the charity does.

'We know that times are tough out there and that there is less money to go around, but we as a charity are ever so confident that the team we have in place, backed up by this fantastic array of ambassadors, will now be able to compete better and smarter for those pots of money that are available.

'As the charity has evolved, more of our work is linked in to government departments, whether it be partnerships with the police or the NHS or local councils. All that is becoming more and more and more prevalent and therefore it is crucial that we make sound partnerships and create new ones and continue to attract the support for the various projects that we do.'

Also supporting the foundation as ambassadors are Sky Sports presenter Simon Thomas and Paralympic shot putter Danny Nobbs.

Six new trustees include EDP editor Pete Waters, Norwich City director Michael Wynn Jones, Norfolk Football Association chief executive Shaun Turner and Norwich City Football Club director Michael Foulger.

The new website is at

Michael Douglas was at the launch yesterday and spoke passionately about how the Community Sports Foundation had helped him.

He moved to Norwich in 2002 from Cumbria to start a new relationship but sunk into depression and started drinking heavily when the relationship broke down and he was no longer able to see his daughter.

He stopped paying bills and suddenly found himself homeless and living in the YMCA hostel on St Giles Street in Norwich.

'I am a proud man but my pride was on the floor,' he said.

It was while he was at the YMCA that he found out about a Norwich City Community Sports Foundation initiative, Street Life Soccer.

'My first impression was that I wasn't fit. I was very apprehensive and wasn't too sure what I would get out of it. The first session interested me a bit, because it involved football and NCFC coaches and it was good to play football again.

'The classroom sessions taught me key skills that really improved my confidence and self esteem. The more sessions I did, the more I wanted to come and get further involved and I attended the sessions three or four times a week.'

He was eventually put forward by the foundation to do a mentoring course and an FA level one certificate in coaching football.

'Street Life Soccer made me feel so much stronger mentally, emotionally and physically and the sessions took away the negative thoughts that I had.

'I found myself being a key character and sometimes the leader in the groups, taking additional sessions with other lads that were regular drinkers and many who were drug takers,' he said.

'Not only did I see a massive change in myself, I saw a massive change in some new friends.'

He now has his own flat and part time jobs with the YMCA and Community Sports Foundation.

He has also completed his FA level two certificate in coaching football.

He won the Eastern Region Most Outstanding Learner Award.

The Street Life Soccer Project was launched in August 2007, after securing funding from the Football Foundation, Norfolk Learning Partnership and the Blue Cat Initiative.

It works with individuals and groups who may have lost their way, are new to the area or have fallen on hard times, which often includes people who are homeless, vulnerably housed, asylum seekers, refugees or ethnic minority groups.