On Tuesday 17th August 2021, Wycombe Wanderers Sports & Education Trust (WWSET) were delighted to welcome 14-year-old aspiring football writer and coach, Owen, to Adams Park for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look around our home, Adams Park. After a tour of the stadium, he took control of a coaching session at our summer soccer school at Cressex Community School. Finally, Owen was invited to the weekend’s fixture, a 1-0 win against Lincoln City, to write a match report for us. He was joined by his 13-year-old brother, Ben.
A couple of weeks ago, WWSET announced the renewal of our partnership with the Fostering and Adoption teams of Buckinghamshire Council, who took up a Friends of WWSET package – our flagship corporate fundraising and networking scheme. It was through this partnership that Owen’s name came up as someone we might be able to support.
Owen and Ben were dropped off at Adams Park a little after 10:30 am on a cool, crisp Buckinghamshire morning with a sprinkle of rain in the air. We took a stroll through the Caledonian Suite, Honours Lounge, Monty’s Bar, and the Chiltern Room before finding ourselves in the Kane Family Boardroom for a look around the trophy cabinet and world record certificates. We then took in the brand new Ignite Third Dressing Room and the home and away dressing rooms before making the iconic walk through the tunnel and out onto the Adams Park pitchside area and Dugouts. We also took in the Woodlands Suites and Executive Boxes on our way up to the TV gantry for the best view in the house!
When the tour, which lasted approximately 90 minutes plus stoppage time, came to a conclusion, Owen and Ben were presented with WWSET coaches shirts – all the rage on catwalks all over Milan, Paris and High Wycombe – the lads joined Activity Programme Manager, Andy Homent, at Cressex Community School, where our summer soccer camp was in full flow. The boys are both keen footballers and took to their new responsibilities very well.
Owen took his responsibilities as a WWSET sessional coach seriously and took control of the session like a seasoned professional, all whilst remaining under the watchful eye of WWSET coach, Shaun O’Hagan. Owen communicated with the players in a calm and concise way and watched over the match with great confidence and just the right level of authority. Nothing seemed to faze him about the experience of refereeing and coaching the players, most of whom were only a couple years his junior at 11 or 12. That is a really difficult thing to do, and Owen managed the game with poise and composure. We’re sure he will be gunning for Gareth Ainsworth’s job in the next few years!
Finally, on Saturday 21st August, Owen and Ben came along to the Wycombe Wanderers vs Lincoln City fixture at Adams Park, where they were able to sit pitchside and watch the Chairboys see out a 1-0 victory over the Imps, courtesy of Sam Vokes’ 2nd-minute header. The atmosphere was electric during the game, and the boys got to see their heroes up close. Ben, a left-footed wing back sees Joe Jacobson as his hero, and Owen, two-footed advanced central midfielder and occasional striker has his eyes out for the Beast, Adebayo Akinfenwa.
WWSET and Buckinghamshire’s Fostering and Adoption Services first came into contact in September last year but sadly COVID prevented any moves forward in highlighting the need for more foster carers and adopters. As a Friend of WWSET, Buckinghamshire’s Fostering and Adoption Services can access the community links and business communities WWSET has access to. In addition, children in the council’s care will be able to potentially access some of the fantastic sports, health, inclusion, and education-related community projects that we run, including mentoring schemes and courses for improving physical and mental wellbeing. The children will also get access to some match day tickets to see Wycombe Wanderers play.
Julie Ward, Buckinghamshire Council’s Deputy Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said of the partnership that “in addition to giving many of our children and young people in care access to some of the fantastic programmes provided by WWSET, this important partnership allows us to raise awareness of the need for foster carers and adopters throughout the Wycombe Wanderers community and beyond.”
Working with 14-year-old Owen, who was adopted at age 3, and being able to provide a positive and engaging day during a difficult time in his life is something that WWSET see as hugely rewarding, and reason enough to form partnerships like this one with the Buckinghamshire Fostering and Adoption Services.
Mark Fawkes, Head of Fundraising and Communications at WWSET said: “It’s been an amazing time to get to know Owen and Ben and to help them through a difficult time for them and their family. The Friends of WWSET package we offer allows us to build a much more fruitful relationship with our partners than just a transactional business deal. It’s these moments that allow us to work together with our partners and make much more of the terrific network we have. Our main reason for doing what we do is to motivate, educate and inspire through the power of sport, and if you were to try to explain that to someone, the mind’s eye paints a picture of exactly this.” He continued, “Owen and Ben have been great this week, as have mum and dad Nicki and Dylan, and the boys have held themselves with a level of confidence and dignity that I certainly wish I had when I was their age. They’re great chaps, and they are welcome back any time!”
The 2021/22 Friends of WWSET package was relaunched for the 2021/22 season in August 2021, and we are thrilled to have companies like Buckinghamshire’s Fostering and Adoption Services on board. Keep your eyes peeled to the WWSET communications channels for further updates on their activities. The Friends of WWSET programme is now open to creative and forward-thinking companies in the High Wycombe area. For more information, or to sign your company up, click here.