A score for the well-being goals
On the week of the Homeless World Cup in Cardiff, we’re celebrating how sport can bring together people of all ages, from all backgrounds.
The North Wales Dragons are a not for profit Community Football Team founded by Chris, Steven and Gareth Roberts. The team was founded following an idea to raise money for a charity called Boots for Africa which was the charity formed by the World’s Oldest Football Club, Sheffield FC. It became an annual event that has snowballed into something they never could have imagined.
Soon, we will be publishing our ‘Journey to A Wales of Cohesive Communities’ where one of the topics will focus on people being active in their communities and ‘Creating the conditions where people and communities can do the things that matter to them’ and in this blog from co-founder Chris Roberts, tell us about how their football team is bringing the Well-being of Future Generations Act to life in this way, and as result, creating a healthier community that is more connected and prosperous.
The North Wales Dragons team, aged between 16 and 65, raises funds and awareness for various causes throughout the year, playing our home games in Llandudno and forming a partnership with Llandudno FC.
The team is made up of individuals from local towns who all take time away from work and family to not only play football but to raise funds and awareness for various charities.
Our success does not only come in awards and trophies from matches, nor does it come from helping players get out of their comfort zone while becoming fitter and healthier but it also comes from the charities themselves, when they say thank you and you can see the change you have made to that cause in action.
A More Equal Wales
Friday nights sees our squad come together for an hour long match, improving health, fitness and ultimately making new friendships in the squad. People from all types of backgrounds are given the same opportunities when it comes to match selection, everyone brings something to the team.
A Prosperous Wales
We have become a go to contact for many wanting to start their own community- based club, guiding teams on training set up’s, match day’s and other elements such as health, safety and insurance. This in turn helps to generate not only more income for local business but also more funds raised for various charities.
I, as co-founder, now host speaking engagements at schools, colleges, universities and business groups. The talks include how we got started and how a small idea has become something so big in helping the founders, the team and the community in several different ways.
From humble beginnings the Dragons now have a good fan base, social media has helped the team reach further than anything else before. The Dragons can now boast a reach of over 10,000 followers across the main 3 social platforms, including some well know celebrity followers, such as Davina McCall.
A Wales of Cohesive Communities
What makes us unique is that for 10 years now, the Dragons have been building a reputation that is unmatched by any other charity football team. Creating friendships, business partnerships and giving back to the local community and beyond.
Each of our players are extremely proud to be a part of the North Wales Dragons and are often telling friends, family and work colleagues about the team. They often bring new people to training sessions, reaching out to people beyond our own. This then allows us to reach new people, gain new players, new sponsorships and ultimately make more for charities across the country.
What is particularly pleasing is that we are now inspiring players to take their experiences to work with them and businesses are forming their own team to raise funds and awareness for past colleagues or colleagues who are going through difficult times either in health or financially.
We inspire our players to get involved with the causes we are supporting, some of the players might have family members who have a connection with certain causes, and this gives extra incentive in the players wanting to do good for the charity.
The players donate their time to the football matches and often dig into their own pockets when it comes to raffles and auctions.
The Dragons have gone on to help raise over £50,000 for charities across the country, raising funds and awareness for such charities as Welsh Hearts, Cancer Research UK and Help For Heroes.
A Globally Responsible Wales
We are always looking at our own carbon footprint and try to reduce it as much as we can. Our players often carpool to training and even do the same when it comes to match days which is sometimes not easy, even more so when you have a 6′ 6” player trying to cram in to a Vauxhall Corsa with 4 others on a three-hour long journey to Nottingham.
A Resilient Wales
We now supply match day water to our players in multi-use water bottles which were gifted to us by our club ambassadors HMS Dragon.
A Healthier Wales
Not only do we get our players inspired by the causes we promote, but they also inspire us with personal stories of what life has dealt them. Some players have come forward to let us know they have struggled with physical and mental health and football with the Dragons has allowed them to improve or manage their issues. We have had players struggle with fitness and training and playing with the Dragons has helped them lose weight and boost confidence. Co-Founder Gareth Roberts was such a player, losing over 5 stone in weight, just so he can keep up with the players and subsequently benefiting charities.
We have now played more than 4000 minutes, scored over 125 goals and have had over 75 different people wear the shirt over the years. Our aim is to continue to inspire, and hopefully other Community Football Teams will be formed, not only in the UK but across the rest of the World.