Ilford FC looking to engage community with dedicated game
Essex Senior League side Ilford FC will dedicate their FA Vase fixture on Saturday 31 October to the work of Kick It Out.
Following on from the organisation’s successful activities on Non League Day, the Foxes have chosen their First Round fixture against AFC Kempston Rovers to promoting equality and inclusion at non-league level.
Ahead of the clash, Allan Fenn, manager of Ilford, spoke exclusively to Kick It Out about the club he manages and the importance of engaging with the local community.
My first spell as manager of Ilford was ten years ago when I won the ‘double’ here before I moved onto another club. I’d had five years out of the game before coming back last year; with the club appearing to be in a bit of a state off on and off the pitch.
We only had the first team when I returned but now we have seven teams competing across a number of levels, which means we are rebuilding the infrastructure of the club. We’re playing against teams in this league with budgets of £2,000 a week where as we don’t have nothing. My players pay £5 to go training, so that shows you the difference how we are operating.
Part of the rebuilding is trying to build the community feel again at Ilford. It’s a fantastic club who have played the likes of Barcelona in its past, and we want to regain that pride for the club within the area and that is what we are trying to do.
I would like to bring what Kick It Out does to the club. We are based in a massive multicultural area and we want to promote the work of the organisation as well as show our support by welcoming people from all communities.
We want to get people through the door to try and embrace their local team. We have some good facilities and we are a welcoming club with some good people who volunteer and give up their free time to keep the club running. If we keep highlighting and raising awareness, we can bring the local community through the doors.
What Kick It Out do in the game is brilliant, so I spoke to Troy Townsend and said ‘how can Ilford get involved?’; so we are dedicating the FA Vase game on Saturday.
We’re playing AFC Kempston Rovers from Bedfordshire in the First Round so it’s quite a big weekend for us and others in the non-league game. But more importantly for our perspective, we want to continue the momentum the club has currently got where we have won six of the last eight games we’ve played.
I think the dedicated game is a great opportunity for Ilford and Kick It Out to highlight what we’re both doing. We are obviously trying to get more people to come and support their local team and Kick It Out want to get their message across non-league football.
We will have the flags and t-shirts here for Saturday to show our support for Kick It Out and hopefully we can get the win on what promises to be a great day.