The community outreach team at Portadown FC have had a bumper season full of fun, smiles and laughter.
We have hosted various groups for non match day visits from all over N.Ireland and Dublin, with participants enjoying tours, meeting the manager and players as well as hosting the children and parents of the Portadown and District Battalion of the Boys Brigade for their annual parade and religious service.
Community match day visits have given local groups the opportunity to experience the full Shamrock Park experience as well as populating our new and improved Family and Community area in the home stand. The Family and Community area has given families and groups the option of sitting further away from the main noise and away supporters in order to experience the match, often for the first time.
We have had various match day promotions such as Santa Hat Saturday, Easter Family Fan Zone and U16s for free at the Mid Ulster Derby, which have led to a big increase in the numbers of families, women and children attending and enjoying the match day experience at Shamrock Park.
This season we introduced family season ticket options for the first time and this was well received.
One particular highlight has been the WE ARE PORTS led Tuesday walking group, who have met each Tuesday morning during the season. The group has gone from strength to strength and created a vibrant community of mostly seniors who come together for a walk and activities such as quizzes and historical Irish League football talks.
We have lent a playing kit to Portadown YMCA so that they could take part in a local tournament and donated raffle prizes to various charities and organisations for their fundraising drives.
Before our home Mid Ulster derby in October we partnered with Thomas Street Methodist Church and Glenavon FC to collect over 30 bags of coats for needy people within Northern Ireland, which was really generous of everyone who contributed to this.
Approximately £6000 has been donated through bucket collections at matches this season which has shown huge amount of generosity, and we thank supporters and officials for this tremendous effort during these difficult times.
Our annual Remembrance Service, led by our Club Chaplain Wilson Beare, took place once again with more supporters than ever in attendance. The local British Legion and various local dignitaries came along for what turned out to be a poignant time together.
Our free mascot package was a brilliant addition to community work in the 2022/23 season and we had lots of boys and girls lead their team out onto the pitch over the season. Everyone involved in this were over the moon with their experience including lots of Mums and Dads visiting the changing rooms and boardroom before matches. Special thanks to Niall Currie, Jason Hall and various injured players, for taking time out of their match day routine and engaging so positively with these children and their families. The mascot package is a great way to gain lifelong supporters for our football club.
Our many ballboys and girls did a wonderful job this year and fully participated in our home matches, with some very memorable victories under the belt. They have been very dedicated, and our players and coaches have really supported them and encouraged them in the task. Thank you to Bobbie for co-ordinating them so well.
We look forward to our upcoming End of Season Dinner and Awards night on Saturday 20th May and a bumper pre season Family Fun Day as we launch the incoming season during the summer.
As always, I would like to add special thanks to the WE ARE PORTS committee and members, who have given us great support and contributed financially to a number of our endeavours this season.
If you would like to be involved in our community outreach next season, please get in touch.
Dave Wiggins, Community Director.