In a bid to reach a wider family audience, bust some of the myths around adoption and, at the same time, support children and young people at grassroots football level, regional adoption agency Adopt South has agreed a two-year sponsorship arrangement with Hampshire Football Association (FA).
The news is announced in the same week that the Department for Education launches a nationwide #YouCanAdopt campaign to raise awareness that adopters are needed from a wide range of backgrounds and situations – including single parent adopters, Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and from the LBGT+ community.
Rachel Reynolds, Head of Adopt South, commented: “Football, particularly at local and grassroots level, attracts a wide range of people of all ages, interests and abilities. In turn, sport gives children and young people a sense of belonging, friendship, the skills to work as a team and, most of all, confidence. It also opens up opportunities, for those who are thinking of adopting but have no experience of children or childcare, to interact with young people and understand them through voluntary youth football coaching, since the role of a youth coach involves being a teacher, mentor, counsellor and a friend.
She continued: “It is why we believe that the benefits of this sponsorship arrangement are three-fold: the doors opened to us are huge, within this Hampshire-wide family friendly, team spirited community; we can give prospective adopters the chance to work with children and young people; and by supporting children and young people at grass roots level, we are also likely to be supporting families who have already adopted and, importantly, helping their children and young people to thrive and build resilience in themselves through involvement with the local community.”
An adopter who can speak from experience about the benefits of grassroots football in Hampshire, is Jason Smyth. He said: “Our two boys enjoy the exercise with their peers and the skills they learn happily in a safe environment with very good coaches and us nearby if needed.
“As both boys are quite different, they benefit in different ways. The 12 year old loves socialising with the other players who are of varying ages and it’s also a positive for him as he moved to a school quite a distance from home so it’s been a great opportunity to get to know children of a similar age. The younger of the two will quite often drift in and out the sessions and it is good that he feels at ease to be able to do that. One of the best things is that they have been able to form friendships while enjoying sport at the same time.”
As part of the partnership with Hampshire FA, Adopt South will be sponsoring the Community Pitch 2 at Stoneham Lane Football Complex, Hampshire FA County Cup sponsorship for the John Ward Sunday Senior Cup, Women's Senior Cup and the Saturday Veterans Cup and the Hampshire FA Supporters club.
Hampshire FA’s Chief Executive Officer, Neil Cassar said: “We are delighted to continue our commercial partnership and positive working relationship with Adopt South. Adopt South provides adoption support services across the region and beyond, and we feel that football is well placed to promote their services to our membership and fits extremely well with the team ethos of our national game. We are pleased to have their support and we look forward to developing this partnership hopefully long into the future.”
The county FA also has a strong presence across all digital platforms to a large base of followers and will promote Adopt South’s work to encourage people to adopt and ensure children and young people, who are unable to live with their birth families, can be matched with their forever family at the earliest opportunity.