Bradford City Football Club is celebrating the success of a unique football initiative that is having a major impact in improving the health and quality of life for older people in the local community.
The Extra Time programme uses the ‘power of football’ to engage over-55s and provide regular sport and social activity at 30 professional football clubs. It is jointly-funded by the Football Foundation and Sport Relief, who developed it in partnership with the Premier League, Football League Trust and Age UK.
Extra Time helps participants to improve their health and emotional well-being to address some serious health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, obesity, and depression. The project also focuses on lifestyle changes that promote health and well-being, helping older people to stay healthy and well and empowering them to live independent lives.
Since Bradford joined the programme in 2009 they have developed a number of projects and initiatives for the local community to get involved in.
One of the most popular has been the Gents Club, aimed at male participants over the age of 60 from the local area. The event runs on a fortnightly basis, and after a coffee and chat, participants play badminton, table tennis or pay a visit to the gym. Occasionally the club departs outside the Richard Dunn Sport Centre for a game of snooker or mini bowls. Trips are also made to the Bradford City Football Club Bantams Museum and café to look at the exhibits and reminisce.
The main outcome of the project is to tackle isolation - a major problem that affects millions of older people in the country. The programme offers renewed social contact and helped install a sense of purpose in participant’s life’s, which for some was lost when they retired.
Terry Dolan, who made 195 appearances for the Bantams and later went on to manger the club, currently takes part in the Extra Time sessions himself. Speaking about his involvement, Terry said: “It has been great to be back involved with the club and act as a role model, sharing my experiences as both a player and manager of Bradford City Football Club.”
The Football Foundation and Sport Relief joined forces in 2008 to create the Extra Time programme, with a joint £500,000 invested for its initial pilot. Through the power of football the Extra Time programme endeavours to drive up the participation of older people whilst delivering social inclusion and physical activity projects nationwide. In September 2010 Extra Time was extended by a further two years due to its success and now runs 30 community schemes.
Former player Ian Ormondroyd, who currently heads up the Community Foundation at Bradford FC, was full of praise for the initiative: “The Extra Time Project has been a great way for us to engage with the older community in Bradford, especially men interested in football. We are proud of the way we have improved their health and in some cases got them out of the house”, he said.
The programme has engaged around 1,000 older people in their local areas and as a result of Extra Time, 70% said that they found everyday tasks such as climbing stairs easier; 75% had made new friends; and 21% used the health services less.
Kevin Cahill, Chief Executive of Sport Relief, said: “For a number of years Comic Relief has awarded grants that help older people across the UK get access to the support they need. Extra Time is providing a valuable service for a great number of older people across England and Wales, improving their health and fitness as well as strengthening social and community links.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “Extra Time has transformed the quality of life for older people all over the country, providing important opportunities to stay fit and healthy which would otherwise not exist. The project at Bradford has been particularly successful at engaging the local community and offering some of the most innovative programmes we have seen. I congratulate everyone at the club who has worked so hard and dedicated so much time to this thriving project.”
To find out more about the Extra Time programme follow us on http://twitter.com/TheExtraTime or visit www.footballfoundation.org.uk.