Blackburn Rovers Community Trust couldn’t have been granted a higher profile awareness fixture this season than the derby day with Preston North End, so expect to see their presence all around Ewood Park as we enjoy the all-Lancashire affair.
The most prevalent sign of Community Trust staff and activities will be a high profile bucket collection under the ‘Bring A Pound To The Ground’ banner.
Staff from the charity and volunteers from their NCS Youth Board will be situated around the stadium – including at every turnstile block – asking fans, where possible, to donate £1 each towards their new disability football teams, which will hopefully give our supporters the chance to play in festivals or one-off fixtures against other representative sides.
However, there is much more to the day than the fundraising appeal, with the following additional activities – delivered by Community Trust staff – hoping to catch the eye…
Football freestylers: Come and enjoy the silky skills of Samuel Lord and Yiannos Sofroniou who will be performing in the Foster’s FanZone at 10.45am and 11.25am (as well as letting fans learn how some of the great tricks are done), before heading inside the stadium from 11.30am to carry on the entertainment at pitchside in front of the Blackburn Rovers Community Trust Family Stand.
Stalls and giveaways: There will be two special stalls in the Foster’s FanZone; one promoting the work of the Community Trust and another offering any child with a World Book Day ‘book for £1’ token the chance to exchange it for an even better deal – a free book courtesy of the National Literacy Trust and WH Smith. Please note that the free book stall will move upstairs in to Strikers’ Lounge in the event of bad weather.
FanZone interviews: Listen out for several Community Trust staff addressing the crowd pre-game about their projects in areas such as education, health, social inclusion and sports participation. They’ll be happy to take your questions about their programmes, so please don’t be shy – come along and find out if they deliver an activity that works for you.
Inflatable goal: Subject to the overhead conditions, we hope to have our inflatable goal in operation in the corner of the Jack Walker Stand and Blackburn End. Have a go at testing the accuracy of your shot, with plenty of prizes to be won for each participant.
Increased lottery jackpot: Expect a minimum jackpot of £1,000 from the Rovers Return half-time draw – our biggest prize of the season so far. You’ll find plenty of sellers all around Ewood Park, with tickets just £1 each (buy two and receive a free ‘golden ticket’ for our separate hospitality draw). The profits from the draw – which is operated by the Community Trust – are donated to the club’s Academy. Rovers CEO Steve Waggott will conduct the draw and talk to the crowd about the importance of the Club and Community Trust relationship. The draw will also include a cheque presentation from the club to the Community Trust in support of the ongoing fundraising towards their disability football programme.
Community Trust flag bearers: Two competition-winning young Rovers fans will be joined by two Preston-supporting counterparts in carrying the Community Trust flag on to the pitch ahead of the game, highlighting how the community organisations at each club work in partnership to create exciting one-off opportunities for fans to feel part of the big occasion or enjoy money-can’t-buy experiences.
Visiting teams and individuals: A selection of junior teams will be attending the game as guests of the Community Trust, with some forming the pre-match guard of honour or taking their places as player escorts and returning to the pitch at half-time to take part in a penalty shoot-out. We’re delighted to be joined by Clitheroe Wolves U8, Wilpshire Wanderers girls, Accrington U10s and Strathaven Academy for that opportunity, while 16-year-old local match official Jacob Middleton will enjoy being the referee mascot. Ewood Park is currently the only stadium in the country trialling the initiative of letting young referees shadow the professionals, in partnership with the EFL and PGMOL, having been proposed to them by our Community Trust.
Lounge visits: If you’re enjoying the dining experience in the hospitality lounges, please keep an ear out for Community Trust staff making a half-time appearance to talk about the charity’s work and potentially alert you to projects or events at which you may wish to become more actively involved.
Mascots mayhem: Rover The Dog, who is always chaperoned on matchdays by staff from the club’s charity, will have a very special guest alongside him in the form of PNE’s mischievous Deepdale Duck! The notorious visiting mascot has accepted our invitation to come and meet and greet both sets of supporters, so please give him a warm welcome.
The regulars: As ever, the popular award-winning and family-friendly facilities around the stadium – such as The Game Room, Rover’s Kennel and Strikers’ Lounge – will be staffed by the Community Trust team, with assistance from our partners at McDonald’s, Ewood, who will be providing their regular free fruit bags and face painting in the Family Stand.
Don’t miss being part of a huge day at Ewood Park! Pre-order your tickets to avoid the matchday price rises by visiting www.eticketing.co.uk/onerovers or call 01254 372000.