‘Incredible’ charity work at the heart of Norwich City’s legends game
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018
Ahead of Sunday's fund-raising legends exhibition at Carrow Road, Community Sports Foundation trustee Jake Humphrey tells David Freezer all about The Nest.
Amid the hype and fun of a legends game at Carrow Road this weekend is an impressive new project which will benefit an additional 12,000 people a year in Norfolk.
When Norwich City Legends take on Inter Forever on Sunday afternoon it will all be in favour of a new hub for the Community Sports Foundation (CSF), the Canaries' official charity partner.
Work on 'The Nest' is already under way, breathing new life into the previously dilapidated Anglian Windows Sports & Social Club site off Holt Road, near Norwich Airport. Named after City's home between 1908 and 1935 – the iconic stadium within the chalk hills of Rosary Road – The Nest is a £10.9million project which will benefit CSF service users and the wider community to the north of the city.
Around £1.5m has been spent on phase one and a further £6.9m will be raised through other sources such as funding and grants, from partners including Sport England, the Football Foundation and the Premier League.
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Sunday's game – while also marking the approaching 25-year anniversary of City's famous Uefa Cup run, brought to an end by Inter Milan – is the driving force for the further £2.5m needed.
TV presenter and Canaries fan Jake Humphrey is a CSF trustee and checked on the building work this week, which is planned to eventually include a full-size floodlit 3G pitch, seven grass pitches, a gym and sports hall.
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'We are literally trying to get this finished so we can start having young people coming here in just a few weeks time, so there's a lot going on,' the BT Sport host said. 'But I'm amazed. When I first came here it was dark, it was dingy and it looked 20 years out of date – I didn't think the guys would turn it into anything like this, I had serious reservations the first time I saw it.
'But they've blown me away, an amazing entrance hall, Norwich City yellow on the walls, new flooring, it's bright, it's airy, the bunk boxes are being finished – which is where people will stay when they come on residential visits. It is incredible, I'm absolutely blown away and so proud of the charity that they've managed to achieve this.'
CSF already help over 38,000 people every year to achieve their goals through sport; supporting some of the most disadvantaged, disabled and talented people across Norfolk.
The Nest will benefit an extra 12,000 people a year and see footfall of around 300,000 annually, bringing a disused community facility back into use, allowing some local sports clubs and groups to also use the facilities.
Humphrey is on CSF's board of trustees, which also includes City director Tom Smith and managing director Steve Stone.
'You're involved in all the big decision moments, you know exactly the direction the charity is heading, not just for this year but the next four or five years,' the former BBC presenter explained.
'I remember sitting there and talking, 'should we do a race around Norwich?', thinking it was going to be a difficult thing to organise on top of everything else – and now the charity has Run Norwich (which had over 4,800 runners in 2017).
'Then we talked about buying this place and again it seemed like a huge thing for a charity but we made it happen, and of course we are affiliated to the football club, and the club are fantastic to us.
'We are so proud to be a part of them but we are not funded by the football club, I think that's a really important thing for people to understand, that the money that has been spent on this project – one-and-a-half million pounds so far – has all been raised through charitable donations and we need another two-and-a-half million to finish it.'
So while supporters can enjoy a nostalgic afternoon of watching Bryan Gunn and Darren Huckerby taking on Jurgen Klinsmann and Javier Zanetti, there will be a fantastic cause at the heart of the action.
'I would say there is probably only two football clubs in the country that are doing community projects as well as CSF, the size that we're doing them, with the staff and the investment,' Humphrey continued.
'That's something that Norwich City Football Club and Norwich as a city should be so proud of. We are directly impacting people every single day around the county and doing it through sport, which I believe is the greatest way to reach out to people.
'Everyone understands that it helps people mentally, it helps people physically, the more people that we can help the better and that's exactly what The Nest will do.
'So come to Carrow Road and support The Nest!'
Tickets for the 80-minute game, which will be followed by a penalty shoot-out if required, are priced at £9.93 for adults and £1.93 for under-18s.
'The big thing for us is for people to turn up,' Humphrey concluded. 'I can't believe how good this is going to be, there are some amazing Inter Forever legends and Norwich legends, basically every single player that you would want to turn up will be there.
'It's an amazing opportunity, I don't think there will be another opportunity like this to get these guys together. So what I would say is, don't just read about it in the paper, don't just have a look on social media and see a few video clips, come and experience it for yourself.
'We're making the tickets really affordable, really reasonably priced so that we can fill Carrow Road. You can turn up on the day, you can buy tickets on the door, please come and fill it because it's not just about seeing Darren Huckerby pull on a City shirt again and play alongside Bryan Gunn, it is also to help us turn this place into a reality.
'If we can fill Carrow Road it will go a long way to completing The Nest – and every penny raised goes to charity.'
Norwich City Legends: Bryan Gunn, Darren Huckerby, Adam Drury, Spencer Prior, Gary Holt, Darren Eadie, Iwan Roberts, Grant Holt, Mark Bowen, Rob Newman, Daryl Sutch, Youssef Safri, Paul McVeigh, Robert Ullathorne, John Polston, Phil Mulryne, Andy Marshall, Darren Kenton, Scott Howie, Mark Walton, Ade Akinbiyi, Lee Power, Mike Walker (manager)
Inter Forever: Jurgen Klinsmann, Javier Zanetti, Nicola Berti, Marco Materazzi, Giogos Karagounis, Francesco Colonnese, Massimo Paganin, Giuseppe Baresi, Alessandro Bianchi, Francesco Toldo, Sebastien Frey, Houssine Kharja, Ousmane Dabo, Mikael Silvestre, David Suazo, Riccardo Ferri (coach)
• Tickets are £9.93 for adults and £1.93 for U18s and are available at tickets.canaries.co.uk, by phone on 0844 826 1902 or from the ticket offices at Carrow Road, Castle Mall or Chapelfield.
• For more about the Build The Nest campaign see thenest.org.uk
• If you would like to support CSF, donations can be made at communitysportsfoundation.org.uk