Liverpool is a football city. We are football mad. Shankly, legendary manager of Liverpool FC, who enjoyed collecting trophies, had a startling point of view. He said: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that”.
Words: Jean Hill
The sum parts of a football club reach out into the surrounding community, and can and do become an essential part of the fabric of that society. This can transcend generations, and can be a real investment in the future for those children who grow up in the shadow of LFC (Liverpool Football Club).
Children in the Anfield area can face tough challenges. One way of fuelling their ambition and thirst for knowledge is to tap into those role models who dazzle on the pitch. Simon Mignolet is a safe pair of hands, with all the skills to inspire and encourage local children to aim high. The LFC Foundation: ‘IntoUniversity North Liverpool’ celebrated its first birthday recently. International Goal Keeper and academic advocate, Simon Mignolet, returned to learn about its triumphant past year. Since its launch Simon has taken a keen interest in the initiative that supports children from the local area. Children have been inspired to do better in school, gain in confidence and work to achieve their full future potential.
As well as having a successful football career, Simon has a degree in Political Science and is committed to further and higher education. We attended a workshop where children were learning about different careers in football in an interactive way. Simon spoke to the tutors and children about the centre’s achievements; whilst also being quizzed by the children about his own successes on and off the pitch. The children were learning that Liverpool Football Club is not just about its first team players. They began to explore all the support systems in play at this legendary football club. There are many careers to choose from. The children discovered that there were: coaches, physios, chefs, hospitality roles, administrators, ambassadors, security, sales people, marketing staff and tutors. LFC has its own (giant) allotment that supplies organic vegetables and fruit to the Club for their restaurants, and hospitality.
IntoUniversity North Liverpool opened in October 2017 in Anfield. It is the charity’s first centre in Liverpool and is run in partnership with the LFC Foundation and the University of Liverpool. There is support from graduate staff and university educated volunteers on school-work and exam revision. There are sessions at primary level to improve children’s literacy and numeracy skills. The children we met were engaged, enthusiastic and focused. There is a dedicated learning centre, homework support and one to one mentoring on offer. And it looks like so much fun. On special days students get to meet their heroes: which is all the motivation they need. IntoUniversity is all about networking, cooperation, dedication and helping children to take advantage of wonderful opportunities.
IntoUniversity North Liverpool, Anfield Business Centre, 4th Floor, 58 Breckfield Road South, Liverpool, L6 5DR
Related feature: His & Hers views LFC’s memorabilia