Andy Todd has been a busy man since taking up his post as Community Engagement Manager at Stirling Albion at the beginning of the summer…
Where were you working prior to joining Stirling Albion? I had been working with Active Stirling as a Head Football Coach within all of their football programmes and also took on the role of football programme co-ordinator on a voluntary basis. I assisted Scott Kinross, the Football Development Officer, in the co-ordination and management of the football programmes in Stirling. This was really important for me and helped me a lot in my development, in addition to the years of coaching experience I already had.
Alongside my work with Active Stirling, I was also working part-time with Falkirk FC as a coach within their Academy set-up. I was with Falkirk for three years and really enjoyed my time there.
How have your first few weeks in the job gone? The first few weeks in the job have gone really well and I am enjoying life at Stirling Albion. The people at the club have made it really easy to settle in and, having already worked with Active Stirling and within football development in Stirling for so long, it was an easy transition for me. I am happy with the progress that has been made so far and I believe good foundations are being put in place for a successful Community Engagement programme.
What does your job as Community Engagement Manager at SAFC broadly entail? My job will cover many areas. Broadly speaking, it will centre around getting the club out engaging with people in communities and getting more people involved with Stirling Albion Football Club. I will be co-ordinating and delivering a number of school and nursery taster sessions, mini kickers and after-school community classes, Scottish FA national programmes and various matchday activities to name a few. Active Stirling will be a key partner in the delivery of a lot of these programmes. I will also be responsible for creating and maintaining a structured player pathway that will help to ensure people are involved in the club and football from a young age all the way into adulthood.
There is room for my job to expand into many different areas as the programme grows in the future. There is plenty to keep me busy just now and once these programmes become established then other areas can be explored. We will also look to support as many local events, community groups and community football teams as possible with our resource
What are your plans for the weeks and months ahead? The next few weeks will continue as the last few have, with a lot of planning and preparation going on to ensure the programme is as solid as it can be when it gets fully underway. There will be a lot more activity after the summer holidays when the schools go back, starting off with school and nursery taster sessions. These tasters will take place during the school day and will be planned in order to give us a platform to start after-school classes. There will be match day activities taking place at all of the home games this season, starting off with Peterhead and East Stirling in August. Around mid-October we should see the Community Engagement programme progressing well with a lot of regular activity taking place.
What are the biggest challenges you feel you are facing? The biggest challenge is probably the fact that there is nothing here already. It is definitely challenging working from a blank canvas and it takes longer to set things up and get activities up and running. However, in saying that, I really do relish that challenge and it allows me to do more with the programme and mould it to how I think is best. I hope that once everything gets into full swing and the programme becomes more established it is something that myself, the Trust, the club and the supporters can be very proud of.
Are there plans to have links to schools in Stirling? Getting local youngsters involved is definitely key to the success of the programme. The young people in the Stirling area will be the future of the club, whether that be supporting, playing, coaching or community engagement! Schools will be at the centre of most of the programmes so there will be many strong links with the local schools. The Wallace cluster schools and nurseries, with a few exceptions, are where the majority of the tasters and community classes will take place initially. This is part of the partnership working with Active Stirling. Of course, other areas of the programme will see the club create links with schools throughout Stirling.
Is there a lot SAFC can learn from other clubs who have had someone in post for a longer period? Stirling Albion have already learned from other clubs through simply seeing the need for, and appointing a full-time Community Engagement Manager. Falkirk and Stenhousemuir are two clubs who have thriving community programmes, not too far away from here, and have shown what can be done and now Stirling Albion are taking the first steps towards having a successful community programme themselves. I have spoken with both Martyn Buckie and Tom Elliott, my opposite numbers at Stenhousemuir and Morton respectively, and you can learn a lot from these guys who have been doing the job for years. The big advantage from my own point of view is, having worked with Active Stirling in football development for six years, I know the Stirling area and the football development set-up here really well.
Where do you think it is realistic for Stirling Albion to be on and off the pitch in two years’ time? I think the most appropriate phrase here is potential. There is massive potential for this club and where it can be – not just in two years’ time but long into the future. I know Greig McDonald, Marc McCulloch and the lads will be working as hard as they can and doing everything possible to get Stirling Albion back up the divisions. There already has been, and will continue to be, a lot of hard work done off the pitch to build the club and my new role will be a big part of that. Stirling is a huge area and Stirling Albion is the only professional club in the area, so the potential for the club to grow is massive. Hopefully the season ahead is a very positive one on and off the pitch and we see the benefits of a lot of hard work in two years’ time.
How can people keep up to date with what is happening? They can Like us on Facebook – www.facebook.com/SAFCCommunity They can follow us on Twitter – @SAFCCommunity They can go on the website – www.stirlingalbionfc.co.uk/community They can also get in touch via email – firstname.lastname@example.org Or by phone – 01786 450399