Sunday 28 July 2013
Liverpool are preparing for the new season by touring Asia and Australia this pre-season, but the Reds will also make a more telling and long-term contribution once the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League campaign gets under way.
The club has created three 'charity partners' – the Reagan Milstein Foundation in Melbourne, the Bangkok School for the Blind and the British Council and the Premier League's Premier Skills Gocekz Project in Jakarta – to provide a long-term commitment once the team heads back to England.
"We are committed to delivering a busy programme of activity off the pitch to provide positive change to local people through community football coaching"
"Liverpool Football Club is the world's greatest football family," said Liverpool's managing director, Ian Ayre, said. "Our pre-season tour is an important part of our strategy to bring the club closer to fans, no matter how far away from Anfield they live.
"As well and the first team's training and match schedules, we are committed to delivering a busy programme of activity off the pitch to provide positive change to local people through community football coaching."
The club's official charity, Liverpool FC Foundation, is sending a group of community coaches on the tour to deliver a range of footballing programmes with the aim of bringing about positive change to local children and adults, while signed merchandise from the club and the availability of its social media channels will promote fund-raising activities for its charity partners.
Kevin Milstein, from the Reagan Milstein Foundation, said of the partnership: "It enables us to be able to reach communities that we could not have before, and allows us to bring even more positive changes to many football communities around the world."
"Our social inclusion project through football has reached children in some of the most challenging and disadvantaged communities in Jakarta"
Before Liverpool's 2-0 win over an Indonesia XI on the first match of their three-game tour last Saturday, coaches from the club's charity visited an orphanage in Jakarta at Gocekz Project, one of seven centres in the city coordinated by Premier Skills, a scheme funded by the British Council and the Premier League and heavily inspired by the Premier League's highly successful Kickz community programme in the UK.
The campus specialises in teaching life skills to survive to its 75 students, who were mostly street children.
"Our social inclusion project through football has reached children in some of the most challenging and disadvantaged communities in Jakarta for the past two years," said Mia Annisa, British Council Programme Manager for Premier Skills' Gocekz. "We'd like to continue using football and the love for football as the gateway to develop life skills among these children."
Lady Uraiwan Sirinupongs, Chairperson from Bangkok School for the Blind, added: "We are privileged to be part of this remarkable experience with the world class football players of Liverpool. This is a great opportunity for our kids to learn and utilise the expertise from football coaches, strengthening their self-esteem and confidence and giving them drive to stand on their own."
On the team's arrival in Australia over the weekend, five first-team squad members – Andre Wisom, Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto, Jay Spearing and new signing Simon Mignolet – visited a clinic arranged by the Liverpool FC Foundation in conjunction with the city of Melbourne. Children aged between five and 16 from three local teams were put through their paces by a team of Foundation coaches for two hours before the players took part in the session.
"I jump at the chance to attend events like this"
"It's great to come down to events like this and meet the kids," Wisdom told LFCtour.com. "I'm still only a kid myself, so I know how much it means to meet players from another country who you look up to.
"I grew up in Leeds and I always wanted to meet a professional footballer as a youngster, but I never got the chance with any of the teams I played for. It's something I dreamed about – meeting one of my idols in the flesh. Now that I'm a player, I jump at the chance to attend events like this."
Forbes Duff, the event organiser from the Liverpool FC Foundation, added: "We visited a children's hospital this morning to give out presents and try and bring a little bit of happiness to their lives.
"To see the smiles on the faces of the kids when the players turned up was brilliant. This is what coming on tour is all about for Liverpool FC – engaging with kids all over the world and giving something back to our fans."