Ask a football fan about their clubs history and they will tell you about the trophies they’ve won, their biggest victory and probably their key victories against their rivals. Ask a Celtic fan and they will no doubt do similar (except we’ll need to chip in that our biggest rivals died) but there is one difference, when you ask a Celtic fan about our history more often than not we will not mention football. More often than not a Celtic fan will tell you that the club was formed to put food on the tables of the most needy. That first and foremost Celtic were formed to do good. It is this that makes us a club like no other.
In the earlier parts of my Celtic fan life, we were in danger of becoming just another club. Yes we had our Irish immigrant heritage but the charitable side had also become a historical legacy. In 1994 Fergus changed all of that.
In 1994 Fergus set up the Celtic charity that has now become the Celtic FC Foundation. Since then the Celtic Foundation has raised nearly £14m funding projects in 27 countries across the globe. The core of the Foundation work happens in the East End of Glasgow with approximately 5,500 people benefiting from Celtic Foundation programmes every year. Our Foundation’s work with the Glasgow North East Food Bank has resulted in over 83,000 meals being delivered thanks to the funding of a full-time staff member by the Foundation.
I have been fortunate to attend a number of Celtic FC Foundation events and the stories are truly inspiring. There is the Cashback Gateway to Employment project that works with young people who are at risk of offending or re-offending, teaching personal development, workplace skills and mentoring and ultimately moving participants into training, further education and jobs. There is also the Ability Counts Project which offers weekly football coaching and dance elements designed to foster and promote inclusion, diversity and friendship between children and young people with Downs Syndrome. This programme has been evolving and now this ground breaking and award-winning progamme also works with children with Autism.
These are just some of the programmes run by the Foundation and if you ever get a chance to attend a Foundation showcase event you must. The stories of the people involved, the beneficiaries and the Celtic coaches will warm your heart but I must warn you, you’ll also need some hankies!
Nothing frustrates me more than when the media and politicians discuss the need for strict liability and the issues created by the “Old Firm”. Football is part of society and if there are idiots in society why would we not expect them to exist in football too. Equally society is full of wonderful people who do wonderful things every day and so is football. The Celtic FC Foundation is a marvellous part of our club that does us all proud and their work has a truly catholic ethos helping all who need it, regardless of race, religion or football affiliation. If you’ve never got involved before please consider it. You can do whatever you like to raise funding, from participating in the Golf Day, Abseil or one of the charity dinners or you can do your own charity drive. Indeed now you can contribute £3 a month by doing nothing more than texting CHAMPION to 70020.
If you want to know more about the work of the Foundation you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or log onto CelticFcFoundation.com and if you text CHAMPION to 70020 you will become a Celtic FC Foundation Champion, receive a newsletter and possibly get an invite to a Foundation Showcase event (if you do, bring a hanky).