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GREGOR RIOCH: "WE'RE AS PROUD OF THEM AS PEOPLE AS THEY ARE FOOTBALL PLAYERS."

25 March 2019

Divin Baningime (pictured) helped to celebrate the club's involvement in the EFL Day of Action at St Jude's Primary School.

Commitment on the pitch has been matched by commitment off it by Wigan Athletic’s Academy players during the 2018/19 campaign, with a number of Under 18s and Development Squad members supporting a range of community activities across Wigan.

Bradley Roberts, Mitchell Culshaw, Scott Smith, Olly Crankshaw, Ryan Galvin and Divin Baningime have all supported events this year, with the club’s Development Squad set to take part in The Brick's #DWStadiumSleep on Friday 5th April.

With events attended ranging from disability sport sessions to literacy activities and PE lessons, the club’s youngsters have been able to learn more about Wigan Athletic Community Trust and how the charity works to Improve Health, Enhance Life Chances and Create Stronger, Safer Communities.

And just like Paul Cook’s first team squad, who make weekly visits to Community Trust events, the Academy now incorporate community activity into their players’ learning programme.

Discussing the link, Gregor said: “This football club has always been at the heart of the community and from an Academy perspective the boys can sometimes be consumed within a bit of a bubble and not really be aware of some of the real life experiences that people are involved with, so it’s been really good for our younger players to understand more about that and experience it first-hand. 

“We’re trying to find ways where lads of 17 and 18 are able to go out and experience something different as part of this football club. The players will become more and more used to it as time goes on and the fact they’re able to do this type of work at this age will only benefit them long-term, so we're as proud of them as people as they are football players."

“The visits have brought the players closer to the community here in Wigan and have given them more of an affiliation to the badge, so we’re always looking at ways that they can become more well-rounded individuals and we look forward to progressing our link with the Community Trust.”

Divin Baningime was the most recent player to attend a community activity, with the forward joining older brother Beni to return to former school St Jude’s Primary School as part of the club’s EFL Day of Action celebrations, where they took part in a PE lesson with their younger siblings.

Mike Hurn, Head of Education and Welfare at Latics, said: “The link we’ve had this season has been tremendously positive and we’ve worked really hard with the Community Trust to find opportunities in the players’ programmes to go and support the work of the club’s charity.  

“They’ve picked up some great experiences and have met people they maybe wouldn’t otherwise meet so it’s been really beneficial for their development as individuals.

“I know the lads have really enjoyed the events they’ve been to and the feedback has been so encouraging from the players as well as from schools, teachers and participants.

“We want our lads to be well-rounded people and we want them to be able to identify with the people they work with in the community. It’ll make them better individuals which makes us really proud as staff and as a football club, so long may this work with the Trust continue for us.”

John Hudson, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at the PFA, said: “Wigan Athletic as a football club, along with its inspiring work through the Community Trust, are investing in their young players while also providing role models for young children to aspire to and achieve their potential.

“The PFA are fully behind this approach to effect positive change through education, life skills and a forward thinking approach to Community Player Engagement.”

For more information about Wigan Athletic Community Trust, please call 01942 318090 or email community@wiganathletic.com


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