Chelsea is undoubtedly one of the best football clubs on the planet. But alongside its incredible success on the pitch, it also carries out an enormous amount of charitable and community work.
Founded in 2009 and launched the following year, the Chelsea Football Club Foundation has gone on to become one of the biggest football club community organisations in the world, using football to change people’s lives at a local, national and international level.
“It has a really wide remit and we’re all incredibly proud of it,” says Simon Taylor, who has worked at the football club for almost 12 years and has headed up the foundation since day one.
The organisation delivers 30 different sports and works in 500 schools up and down the country, in addition to operating a number of international projects. Its remit includes the delivery of sport, education, entrepreneurialism, STEM and technology work.
It supports women’s and girls’ football and runs programmes for disabled people, ensuring they can access a sport or physical activity of their choice, inspiring them to be more active and encouraging them to develop the confidence and skills to realise their potential.
“The whole ethos behind everything we do is to use sport as a vehicle to benefit our community – not just our local community, but every community we reach out to,” Simon says.
One major aspect of the foundation’s work with young people is its football delivery programmes. “We want to make sure that when kids leave school, they don’t drop out of sport,” Simon explains.
“Giving kids a really good start at the beginning of their sporting life makes them keen to carry on into adulthood, and that’s an incredibly important part of our work.
“We also use football to help deliver a variety of other programmes, so science and technology – how a ball moves through the air, how a football boot is built – even down to using coding to programme robotic balls to move around a football pitch.
“Kids thrive off being interested in the subjects that they’re learning, so by introducing football – something many kids are interested in – we’re hoping to create an interest in wider topics and use football as a vehicle to help deliver quite complex issues at times.”
The foundation also promotes equality and diversity and works to engage vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, difficult to reach young people and those at risk of offending, by running programmes in areas with higher instances of youth crime.
At Stamford Bridge, the foundation offers entrepreneurial and employability programmes, as well as activities for older people, helping them develop their technology and IT skills like learning to use Skype, running keep-fit classes and tackling loneliness.
It operates social inclusion projects at St Luke’s and Chelsea Academy, and has a school hub programme in the area. “Even in the immediate vicinity of King’s Road, there is a huge amount of work going on,” Simon says.
Asked why the club decided to set up the foundation, he says: “We believe it’s the right thing to do. We understand the power and the loud voice that football has and we want to use that power in a positive way to engage with our communities.
“When you see young people who started off as participants on the programme coming through as volunteers, getting their coaching qualifications and ultimately ending up working for the Chelsea Foundation, you get a real sense of achievement.
“It’s nice coming home at the end of a long day and thinking that hopefully the football club and the Chelsea Foundation have made a difference to a lot of people. It’s a very varied job, but it’s ultimately a thoroughly rewarding one.”