Dundee West FC hope their new community trust can change lives through football.
West, based at Charlotte Street Pavilion, have been a pillar of the community in the north west of the city for 36 years.
Through their football programme, they have encouraged the development of many a talented player, such as Dundee’s Cammy Kerr.
Now, however, the club are aiming to touch more lives in the City of Discovery through their charitable arm.
With testing living conditions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, West felt the need to take action to aid those struggling in the local area.
Club development officer, Tam McCabe, explained: “The last 36 years it’s all been about increasing participation and focusing on football to try to get young people active.
“Now we’re looking at the bigger picture and trying to use different avenues of sport to not just give people a chance to play, but to get healthier and bring people together.
“We’re trying to reach out to more people in the local area, residents in the north west of Dundee from Ardler/St Marys to the Downfield/Strathmartine area, using sport to create more opportunities to help with peoples’ wellbeing overall.
“It will be led on what the challenges are in our community, things such as people being socially disconnected because of the lockdown, mental health and people becoming inactive.
“We want to use our trust to tackle these issues and get people back on their feet going forward.
“We’ve received funding to run two new programmes which, once restrictions are lifted, will get people into Charlotte Street to take part in a light, fun fitness regime to meet some new people and to have a cup of tea or coffee and a blether.
“It’s about how we can use different aspects of sport to change peoples’ lives.”
Trustees key in driving change forward
McCabe and coaches Paul Gibson and Jayne Digby will sit on the committee alongside a handful more trustees from the local community.
While they look forward to working together in the future to deliver for their members, McCabe says the main focus right now is getting back out on to the pitch.
He added: “We want four or five new trustees in the community with a passion to help drive forward sport for change.
“Dundee West will continue as a football club and will work in partnership with the community trust.
“The two go hand in hand to meet charitable and sporting outcomes.
“They’ll sit under the same umbrella and it will continue to grow.
“The reputation of the football club is proven, we’ve got people asking us every day if they can join the club, they know the values we stand for and what we’re trying to create here at Dundee West.
“We’re just itching to get back to playing the get the kids doing what they love.”
SFA helped get community trust project on its feet
McCabe, an SFA coach working with the club, has praised the game’s governing body for their role in helping Dundee West achieve charity status.
He said: “The Scottish FA East Region have been instrumental with supporting myself driving it forward.
“We’ve got charity status and now we’re starting up this new community trust that will serve the people of the north west of the city.
“The Scottish FA’s support has been massive to get us on our feet and on the track in this journey.
“People now no longer associate a football club just with football or a dancing group just with dancing, clubs and trusts are doing so much more around trying to use sport to educate and support people as best they can.
“The Scottish FA’s priority now is how they can use football to enhance the lives of people.”
West still awaiting planning approval for new pitch
Elsewhere, another big project for the club as yet to get off the ground is the building of a 3G pitch at Charlotte Street.
McCabe provided an update on its progress, saying they are still waiting for the green light from the council.
“The community trust is going to play a part in terms of how we can utilise the pitch for the community,” he added.
“We’re in a position where we’re still awaiting confirmation from the council to tell us how much they’re going to commit to the pitch.
“That then triggers what other funding avenues we can look at but, certainly, the community trust will be a big part of that.
“Can we use it for walking football? Can we use it for the schools? That then, hopefully, triggers more people using the facility.
“Our end goal is to have a facility at Charlotte Street open to the community so that, whether you’re at Dundee West to play football or are just a resident looking to find a way to get more healthy and active, we’ve got something for you.”