Saints Foundation, the official charity of Southampton Football Club, is delighted to announce that Clare Balding has signed up to become one of its ambassadors.
Award-winning presenter, writer and broadcaster Clare joined representatives from the Saints Foundation at a number of sessions earlier this week to see first-hand the impact that the charity’s work is having across the local community, including taking time to talk to a number of participants whose lives have been positively affected as a direct result of their involvement.
As part of a packed schedule, Clare visited three Saints Foundation sessions: a Premier League Enterprise lesson at Regents Park School; a Saints4Sport women-only Box Fit session at Spartans Gym in Northam, delivered in partnership with The Society of St James; and a Saints Girls Football Project session at Woodlands Community College. For more information on each of the projects, please visit saintsfoundation.co.uk.
Clare said: “I’m delighted to sign up as a Saints Foundation ambassador, and to be able to support the great work that the charity is doing across Southampton and the surrounding area.
“It’s a pleasure to see some of the many projects that they are involved in, and even more so to meet some of the participants who they have engaged over the past few years – many of whom have transformed their lives with the support of the Saints Foundation.
“It’s fantastic that Southampton Football Club is supporting its local community in such a way, and I look forward to helping the charity grow and develop over the coming years.
“I don’t think people generally realise just what football clubs do in their communities, and Southampton is particularly strong with the number of projects and the reach that it has. I’m all for supporting the good effort that is already happening and if I can just help people realise a bit more that the Saints Foundation exists, then that’s my role.
“There isn’t a person in Hampshire who doesn’t know about Southampton Football Club – which is huge, and if you can use that in a positive way and help your community and those that are most vulnerable or who need it most, then I think that’s a really good thing to support.”
On the Premier League Enterprise programme, which uses the hook of football and Southampton Football Club in particular to engage pupils who are underachieving or who are at risk of not realising their potential, Clare added: “It’s brilliant to see these kids who were saying that they sometimes struggle with business studies – which is effectively what they are doing – but they are keen on Southampton and support the football club, and it just gives them a way of focusing their attention on something they care about.”
Talking about the Saints Foundation’s involvement in women’s sport, Clare commented: “For a really long time I have been a big advocate of women’s sport, and I think it’s really important within any society that you need to see women being strong, powerful, competitive and athletic – and that those aren’t negative things.
“It’s not just about being the sports person – it’s about working in the sporting environment, whether its organising events, working in promotion or in the media, coaching or being a physio. It’s important that those paths are open for girls as well as boys.”
Gareth Rogers, CEO of Southampton Football Club, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that Clare has chosen to become an ambassador of the Saints Foundation, at what is a really exciting time in the charity’s development.
“We, as a football club, are very proud of the charity and particularly its impact on the lives of thousands of young people and vulnerable adults with whom they work each year, and are really pleased that such a high-profile and well-loved personality shares our enthusiasm and wanted to get involved.
“I look forward to welcoming Clare to St Mary’s and to the city over the coming months and years as – with her help and support – the Saints Foundation continues to develop and grow.”
Clare, who hails from Kingsclere in Hampshire, comes from a Saints-supporting family, with her father, Ian, being a former club director while her brother, racehorse trainer Andrew, is a lifelong fan. That interest has been passed onto Andrew’s three children – Clare’s nephews and niece – who are regular visitors to St Mary’s.