24th August 2022
American Express and Albion in the Community Launch ‘PLAY Together’ Football Festival To Bring Together Football-Loving Community
More than 120 participants from across Sussex took part in the inaugural PLAY Together Football Festival on the Community Pitch at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre, Lancing, that took place on 29 July, 2022.
Delivered by Albion in the Community (AITC), the official charity of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club (BHAFC), in partnership with American Express, the PLAY Together Football Festival has been designed to bring together under-represented groups and young people from targeted communities, to play in mixed gender and ability teams.
AITC has been working successfully in partnership with American Express since 2011. Today’s Football Festival forms part of their bespoke Learn, Live, Play Together volunteer programme which combines the power of football and passion for BHAFC with the time, energy and expertise of American Express colleagues to help local communities across Sussex.
As Main Partner of BHAFC, American Express arranged a special treat for participants, organising six of the club’s star players to come along to meet those involved and provide tips and motivation: Lewis Dunk, Joel Veltman, Victoria Williams, Julia Zigiotti Olme, Katie Robinson and Emma Kullberg.
Led by AITC qualified coaches and supported by 15 American Express colleague volunteers, the day consisted of three separate ‘Football 3’ style open rules mini-festivals. Matches were played without a referee, where players collectively decide how the game will be played, assisted by a moderator. Open rules gives ownership of the game to the players, allowing them to develop skills related to decision making, negotiation and compromise, with an emphasis on fair play. The three mini-festivals comprised:
- The ‘Blue’ football festival for participants aged 7-11 years old (eight teams of between five and eight players)
- The ‘White’ football festival for participants aged 12-16 years old (eight teams of between five and eight players)
- Women’s Walking football showcase festival (34 participants)
Nikki Edelman, Vice President at American Express, said: “It’s been a great day and very encouraging to see young people of all ages, genders and abilities playing football together and having fun. What made it even more special was seeing the interaction with the club’s players. With the new season just around the corner we’re very grateful to the players for taking time out of their training schedules to provide support to so many of the participants, alongside our incredible American Express volunteers.”
Paul Brackley, Disability Manager at AITC, said: “We know that football is a hugely powerful tool to engage and inspire young people, promote diversity, equality and inclusion, and improve physical and mental health. Today’s event is the first in a series of football festivals being planned, designed to introduce new people to football as a sport for all, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, so that everyone feels welcome in football.”