Carlisle Utd unveil major new community partnership in west Cumbria
Carlisle United hope a major new partnership with a construction firm will help the club increase its "presence" in west Cumbria.
The Blues and their Community Sports Trust are joining Wates Construction in a two-year deal which will see them team up to deliver community activities and events.
The partnership, announced today, comes after Wates won the contract to build the £30m new Campus Whitehaven, which will include new state-of-the-art facilities for St Benedict’s Catholic High School and Mayfield Special School.
They plan to work together on the introduction of holiday coaching camps and the delivery of sports coaching, games and health and wellbeing activities in schools.
United say the arrangement is the first of its kind in the county and director Phil King said it will help the club expand its work in west Cumbrian communities.
Sales and marketing director King said: "We had a conversation with Wates initially when they were looking to come into Cumbria and were bidding on this [Campus Whitehaven] project.
"Our Community Sports Trust is a great way of getting out into the community, and we do a lot of great work on our doorstep in Carlisle, but we felt this was a great way to get out into west Cumbria and have more of a presence there.
"Through John Halpin and his team, they will be going into schools and clubs, and to have that contact with kids in west Cumbria who should be Carlisle United fans on a more regular basis is good for us."
King said the deal would also see extra ticket initiatives and the partnership would hopefully lead to Wates, who have joined United's business club, becoming involved in club events and further commercial activities with the Blues.
The Blues director said the connection emerged after speaking to Wates personnel at an Energy Coast Business Cluster meeting.
King added: "It's all well and good us sitting in our home at Brunton Park saying we want fans to come from all different parts of Cumbria, but what are we doing for them?
"This is something we've been keen to do for the last couple of years. From the kids' point of view, seeing coaches with the Carlisle United crest on, delivering positive activities, having our players come to west Cumbria, it all ties in with nurturing those fans of the future."
King, Community Sports Trust manager Halpin, players Shaun Miller and Samir Nabi and pupils from St Benedict's were shown the huge 14-hectare Campus Whitehaven site on Moresby Road on Thursday, which is in the 23rd week of a 74-week construction project.
Simon Humphrey, senior project manager, said: "Wates are new to the Cumbrian region and we wanted to look at having a partnership that could bring value both ways.
"Carlisle United is a brand name which is very well known in Cumbria and that's where the link started.
"We're looking at healthy lifestyle workshops and these are tied into the feeder schools for St Benedict's.
"Carlisle have started their local work with the primary schools, involving healthy lifestyles, healthy eating and so on.
"It's a two-year deal we've entered into with Carlisle at the moment and it's got to work for both parties. Carlisle are fully engaged and it's been really good so far.
"We plan to have a Wates day at Carlisle and take a couple of hundred kids to a match. We're also looking at a sports day - there's a full package of things we're going to be heavily involved with."
The second phase of the Campus Whitehaven project, Humphrey said, will see the demolition of existing school facilities create even more space for sports pitches.
United's Community Sports Trust manager Halpin added: "We’ve worked hard to establish good community links across as much of Cumbria as possible in recent years and this fantastic new partnership is going to both help us to strengthen our presence and get our message out to even more people.
“All of the discussions we’ve had with Wates have been positive and we’re all excited about where this new link-up will take us. Wates launched their own community project plan in the region last year and we’re delighted that we are now an integral part of it.
“The new school will be at the heart of the work we do, and the project will also see young fans from west Cumbria invited to first team home games. It really is fantastic for the club and a real boost for the community work we do.”