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Community Football Summit 2021 

A one-day conference focusing on Bringing together everyone involved with
developing and delivering grassroots football in the new normal world

23rd September 2021, The Lamex Stadium, Stevenage FC

Strategies, policies, experiences, real stories and successes to be told, lessons to be learnt, ideas and experiences to be shared

The unique, must-attend event for everyone involved with community football

Svend Elkjaer, Founder/Director Sports Marketing Network

Chair and It’s all about change in community sport and physical activity

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Svend Elkjaer is founder and director of the Sports Marketing Network, a leading consultancy and information provider with community sport and physical activity. Being described as ‘a positive disruptor’ Svend has worked across the UK and Denmark with all types of providers and funders helping them to become vibrant, visible and viable

 Welcome and setting the scene

Chair, Svend Elkjaer, Founder/Director, Sports Marketing Network

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Svend Elkjaer is founder and director of the Sports Marketing Network, a leading consultancy and information provider with community sport and physical activity. Being described as ‘a positive disruptor’ Svend has worked across the UK and Denmark with all types of providers and funders helping them to become vibrant, visible and viable.

Alex Zurita, London Sport’s Specialist Advisor – Technology for Participation

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Alex Zurita is London Sport’s Specialist Advisor – Technology for Participation, with responsibility for shaping London Sport’s strategic commitments to supporting technology, data and digital initiatives designed to raise levels of participation in physical activity and sport in the capital. This includes leading the Sport Tech Hub, London’s strategic plan of action – ‘Making London the Heart of the Sport Tech World’ and engaging with sector-leading initiatives such as OpenActive.

Alex joined London Sport in 2011 with brief stints as Great Britain Women’s Football Team Manager, and a secondment to the London Legacy Development Corporation as Programme Manager for the multimillion-pound project – Active People, Active Park.


Engaging with non-traditional community football clubs

Tom Burstow, Deputy CEO, Sported

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Tom Burstow has been Sported’s Deputy CEO for the past three and a half years, leading on the organisations’ income generation and partnership development work across the UK. Prior to Sported, Tom work for nearly 10 years at UNICEF UK leading fundraising and programming through sport, managing major partnerships including as the legacy charity for both the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Mixed Ability Football, bringing a new inclusive dimension to the game

Mark Goodwin, Founder/Director, Mason Faulkner, Project Manager, International Mixed Ability Sports

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In 2015 Bradford in West Yorkshire hosted the first Mixed Ability Rugby World Tournament and there are now around 20 mixed ability rugby teams around the UK.The inspiration for the first English Mixed Ability football team came from Anthony Brook, a young man with Cerebral Palsy and Learning Difficulties, who refused to accept that he could only play an adapted version of the game he loves and only play it with other disabled people.In the summer of 2016, the first Mixed Ability Football Festival was run in partnership with Mencap Doncaster Rovers’ 5 a-side pitches with teams from as far as London, Liverpool and Nottingham to South Yorkshire.The tournament has now run annually for 4 years and it has positive impacts for wellbeing, physical and mental health, friendship and relationship building at all levels.From the tournament, a min- league has been developed in South Yorkshire and what’s unique is that players are not graded, judged or identified as disabled. Participants are male or female and could have down syndrome, a physical disability or no impairments..

How football can reach out and support homeless and disengaged people

Keith Mabbutt, Founder & CEO of The Street Soccer Foundation

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In the summer of 2015 former footballer, Keith Mabbutt launched the Street Soccer Foundation after learning of the plight of homeless people in England. The thought of using the global no.1 sport as a platform to attract, engage and inspire vulnerable young people was compelling.

But just how can football truly help those who are disengaged from our society and currently experiencing homelessness?

In this talk you will hear from Founder & CEO, Keith Mabbutt, on how the Street Soccer Foundation has gone on to become nationally acclaimed, now operating nationwide to deliver its flagship programme, the ‘Street Soccer Academy’, viewed as the number 1 football-led project tackling youth homelessness in England.

With the goal of driving change in the country using the power of football, Keith will provide an insight into the partnership-led approach the Foundation has taken to be able to help change lives, create opportunities, and build better futures for those the Foundation supports.

Keith Mabbutt was recognised by the Centre for Entrepreneurs and The Sunday Times as one of the UK’s most successful Businessmen supporting the next generation, A former footballer Keith Mabbutt, is a multi-award-winning entrepreneur and Founder & CEO of The Street Soccer Foundation.


How a female Afghan refugee is giving refugee girls the opportunity to play football 

Nagin Ravand, Footballer and Coach, Aarhus, Denmark 

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Nagin arrived in Denmark with her parents as a refugee from Afghanistan when she was seven years old. She discovered football and realised that she was quite good at the game.

When she was 12, they moved to a new multi-cultural area. And for the whole first year, there were no options for girls to play football and she was very sad because football was her life.

When they went to the local library and asked if there was football for girls, the answer was ‘What? Girls playing football here? No.’

About two years later, Nagin decided to team up with the local football club, which only had male members. There are a lot of refugee families or people from ethnic backgrounds, and they have a lack of role models. When they saw they were allowed to play football, then everyone just started coming. It was her mission: to make these girls feel equal to every other girl.

Since then Nagin has won recognition and awards for her great work to encourage females from diverse backgrounds to play football and they learnt to adapt the values of football to society as a whole.

This unique presentation will tell that amazing story.

The Bloomsbury Football Foundation 

Charlie Hyman, Founder & CEO of  The Bloomsbury Football Foundation

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The Bloomsbury Football Foundation is a charity that uses the power of football to improve the lives of young people. Founded in 2018, Bloomsbury Football are now one of the largest providers of free-to-access football in Central London, working with 3000 children in London every week.  

It’s more important than ever for charities to be financially robust and not rely on grants for their survival. From a footballing perspective, we are a hybrid model, between a grassroots football club and a community foundation. We are also a hybrid in a financial sense; most of our income is generated from the services we provide, and we take on additional grants to enhance our programmes and pursue new projects. We think this self-sustained core is important. Too often, youth services stop when funding runs out. We cannot allow our commitments to young people to rely only on the future generosity of others. 

Charlie Hyman founded The Bloomsbury Football Foundation in 2018, where he currently serves as CEO. He is proud to have been recognised as a Sport Industry NextGen Leader for 2021. Outside of running Bloomsbury Football, Charlie plays Futsal in the National Futsal Series and has represented England internationally. 


Charlie Hyman founded The Bloomsbury Football Foundation

SALISBURY ROVERS FC: it’s your game, play it your way!

Debbie Sayers, Founder/Club Secretary Salisbury Rovers

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Salisbury Rovers FC has established a unique football model. The club prioritises and energetically promotes free play, children’s rights and creativity!The club withdrew from leagues in 2017 and delivers a multifaceted programme of mixed-age football and futsal across multiple settings, including in free community projects.Rovers is four years old this year and has already been rewarded with two County FA Club of the Year awards for its unique football model. The club’s innovative, evidence-based practice has also gained attention nationally and internationally, with its approach being shared on podcasts and in interviews.The club is an activist community. It works to change the grassroots environment for the benefit of kids. In short, Rovers aims to return football to the kids who play the game. To this end, the club has connected with coaches in the UK and abroad to raise important issues about the nature of youth practice and children’s rights at national level: see for example, ‘protection of children in football’ and the club’s recent survey on the mental well-being of volunteers.In 2018, the club launched the #freeplaypledge with coaches nationally and internationally, and from a variety of youth sports, committing to child-led play.Debbie Sayers is the founder, Club Secretary and one of the coaches at Salisbury Rovers. Each week, as a volunteer, she coaches more than 100 children from ages 5 to 16. The coaching includes free play, matches, futsal and football.Debbie has a PhD in human rights law and a commitment to children’s rights lies at the heart of Rovers’ model..

Developing Scandinavia’s largest integrated youth football initiative

 John Witting, Fodboldlinjen, Randers, Denmark

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Fodboldlinjen in Randers, Denmark (population 63,000) has been going for 10 years and more than 500 boys and girls in the 7th to 9th grade play football in the morning between 6.15 – 7.45 am twice a week at twelve different facilities across town. The young people are graded according to their footballing levels so that they will we playing with equals.

 The project also delivers a six-week junior leadership course where the young people are taught design (football kits), innovation, management, marketing and strategy and they then produce a plan to build a club. In 2019 48 pupils from six schools completed the course.

 The project also delivers a football coaching course and every year all the young people go on a study tour to Germany and is being delivered in partnership with several local schools, colleges and the local Superleague football club


John Witting Fodboldlinjen Randers