SAM Allardyce has proudly described the work of Everton in the Community as “second to none” after overseeing a coaching session run jointly by EitC and The James Greenop Foundation (TJGF) on the eve of the 30th anniversary of Everton’s official charity.
The Everton manager met Russ Greenop who, along with family and friends, set up TJGF after his son, 10-year-old Evertonian James, was tragically killed in a road traffic accident in 2013.
In February 2014, in partnership with Everton in the Community, the ‘James Greenop Legacy Kicks’ session was established, initially for James’s friends and teammates in the Prescot area. The programme has grown from six children when it began to some 60 children aged between six and 18 who attend the sessions every week.
Everton’s Premier League game on Saturday at Goodison Park against Crystal Palace will be EitC’s designated 30th birthday fixture and Blues boss Allardyce believes he “hasn’t seen anything better in football” than the award-winning work of the Club’s official charity.
The Everton manager said: “Sessions for young people such as this one – ‘James Greenop Legacy Kicks’ – are all down to the hard work of the Foundation and Everton in the Community. The combination of the two organisations working so closely together has had fantastic results and a thriving session like this is testament to them and to James’s living memory.
“The quality of service that Everton in the Community provides within the city is second to none. I haven’t seen anything better in football.
“For me to give up a bit of my time to come and support this is nothing and Russ is inspirational, he’s very determined. On the back of what was a tragic loss for him and his family, they are recovering and they are recovering by channelling their energies into helping other youngsters. With the support of our charity, they’re helping to deliver other services for those in need. Long may that continue. Rightly, we’re very proud of what we do here at Everton with all the work in our community.”
During his time at the session, Allardyce spoke with James’ dad Russ and his sister Millie about the work the Foundation is doing in continuing young James’s legacy, as well as hearing about their future plans to grow and develop the Foundation in coming years.
The Everton boss picked up a ball himself and supported some of the younger children during their coaching drills, passing on tips and advice to the enthusiastic youngsters in attendance.
“When we set this project up, I was asking for help myself,” explained Russ Greenop. “I needed support.
“Everton in the Community have been fantastic and I went to them asking if they could help me and my family get some solace and put on some training sessions. We started with six on the first night and now we have 60 here.
“I’m so proud of everything we have achieved and we could not have done it without Everton in the Community.
“For me, it’s about building James’s legacy and it has gone to another level thanks to EitC. I’ll always be grateful for that.
“These kids will be buzzing for months about Big Sam coming along to our session and watching them play football – it’s made their night.”
Through the Foundation, the Greenop family have directly influenced dozens of young lives across the city of Liverpool, with the support of Everton in the Community.
They work with the mantra that ‘everyone has the potential to achieve their dreams’ and, by providing small grants and financial assistance, the charity supports and empowers local children, young adults and families who are experiencing difficulties and disadvantages.
Throughout the month of February, members of the first-team squad, Under-23s, Everton Ladies and Club Ambassadors will be visiting Everton in the Community programmes to celebrate the charity’s 30th anniversary, witnessing first-hand the difference EitC is making to the lives of so many people across Liverpool.
* Members of the public are being urged to share their memories and stories of how Everton in the Community has supported them or a loved one on social media, using the hashtag #EITC30.