HRH Prince Harry Visits Sir Tom Finney SC

His Royal Highness Prince Harry visited the Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Development Centre as part of his visit to Lancashire on Monday.

Sir Tom Finney FC are an FA Charter Standard Club affiliated to Lancashire FA, with a variety of junior, youth, disability and adult teams.

The Prince’s trip to the UCLan Sports Arena saw him meet staff from the Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Development Centre as well as the Lancashire Bombers Wheelchair Basketball Club, two community organisations using the power of sport as a means for social development and inclusion. Both are involved with Sported, the sport development charity with which Prince Harry has an existing connection.

During the visit, the Prince met a diverse group of people of all ages and abilities who participate in training sessions and local leagues together, with a view to building new and unique friendships.

He was introduced to Peter Mason, Chair of the Centre, and Kath Mason, Lead Welfare Officer, before watching a number of football sessions involving the ladies, disability and refugee teams.

Andrew Whitaker, Lancashire FA’s Disability and Inclusion Football Development Officer, said: “It was fantastic to welcome Prince Harry on his visit to one of our FA Charter Standards clubs.

“The Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Development Centre focuses on football development and a lot of their work is centred around encouraging people from under-represented backgrounds to play football, while the club itself represents the playing side with a number of different teams.

“Over the last four years, many of the Football Development Officers at Lancashire FA have supported the Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Development Centre and Sir Tom Finney FC to provide opportunities for anyone wishing to take part in football.

“Sir Tom Finney FC have worked hard within the county to grow disability and impairment football along with a strong female football programme and some fantastic initiatives to get refugees and asylum seekers in the area involved in football.

“Much of the work the Association has done with the club began with the link from their HUB Club programme, a partnership between UCLan and its Students Union to develop coaches and referees, while our education lead has worked closely with the club and with UCLan to develop a strong working relationship.

“My role involves supporting disability football in Lancashire, and the club’s positive growth in this area means they now have five disability teams competing within the Frenkel Topping Lancashire FA Ability Counts League.
“It was brilliant to see staff, players and volunteers get the opportunity to meet Prince Harry and share their stories with him.”

Iain Kay, Lancashire FA’s Football Development Manager, said: “Prince Harry’s attendance at the Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Development Centre is testament to the hard work and dedication of all the volunteers at the club, especially Kath and Peter Mason who work tirelessly behind the scenes.

“The HUB Club project helped to deliver a club arm to the Sir Tom Finney Soccer Centre with the continued support through UCLAN and their HE Activator, developing further provision and new volunteers within the club all housed on one site.

“This allowed the club to develop a number of new teams across all formats of the game from under 7yrs to open age and Pan Disability provision, while Sported’s support enhanced the club disability offer.

“The collaboration of all these projects shows what can be achieved when we all work together towards a common goal.”

Roger De Nobrega, Chief Executive of Lancashire FA added: “The Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Development Centre is an outstanding community club who offer such diverse opportunities for children and adults.

“It was tremendous to hear they have been noted for the great work the club does locally.”