Preston-based Soccer charity up for ‘Promoting Inclusion’ award

Sir Tom Finney statue, Wikimedia Commons.

The Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Centre have received a nomination at the North West Football Awards for the second year in a row.

The local organisation, who are ‘a registered children’s charity and Community Soccer Project’, are up for Kick It Out’s ‘Promoting Inclusion Award’.

This particular accolade looks at different projects laying the pathway for inclusion in the North West and for diversity in football.

Furthermore, The Sir Tom Finney Preston Soccer Centre (STFSC) offer such provisions in abundance with regular Adult PAN Disability provision and weekly sessions for local refugees.

Pete Mason set up the charity in 1999 alongside wife Kathleen and is proud to once again be gaining recognition in the local area.

He said: “We’re proud to be nominated for a second time and we didn’t win it last time so it would be nice to win it this time around.

“It’s great to be nominated alongside names such as Everton and Manchester United.”

Tireless effort has been put in by Mason over the years, and the work hasn’t stopped for him after retirement from his job as a senior officer with the British Transport Police.

Other roles over the years include heading the Preston Sports Forum and Preston Swimming Club, though in running the STFSC it’s his fellow volunteers who he holds in the highest regard.

“We have over 150 volunteers, over 60 of which are students and the work they put in is incredible,” said Mason.

“I do the interviews, claim for grants, and the presentations but they do the hard work on the pitch.”

Over 20 years of progression have seen connections built not just locally but nationally as well, with the Duke of Sussex paying a visit to sessions at the UCLan Sports Arena back in 2017.

Prince Harry reacts as he watches a football training session during a visit to the Sir Tom Finney Soccer Development Centre. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Perhaps one of the most prestigious connections of all is Preston North End legend Sir Tom Finney who the Centre’s title pays homage too, and he is certainly an inspiration to Mason’s goal of inclusivity to this day.

Reflecting on Sir Tom – who was patron of the centre between 2005 and 2014 before his passing – Mason said: “I was once walking with him and he said ‘this really is football for all isn’t it’ and that mantra stuck from then on really.”

Such a promise has been hard to fulfil in the last year, though coaches try to keep in regular contact with all participants with Covid-19 putting a sword to regular sessions that really are beneficial to the local community.

Looking ahead, all the hardworking volunteers, including Pete and Kathleen, now wait in anticipation for an awards ceremony like no other.

After the glitz and the glamour of an evening at Lancashire Cricket Club in 2019, this year’s event will be through video call with a 10am start on Monday November 9.

You can follow the North West Football Awards here or on their various social media channels.