New owners Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds’ takeover of Wrexham AFC has had an immediate impact on the Racecourse Community Foundation (RCF).
Wrexham AFC’s charity arm and community outreach scheme delivers football and education projects to the wider Wrexham community, as well as managing the women and girls football programme.
On takeover day, our new owners pledged £50,000 to the RCF to support the women’s football programme – with the goal of developing a sustainable pathway for women’s footballers at Wrexham.
Wrexham AFC caught up with the RCF’s Joint Business Development Manager, and lifelong Wrexham supporter, Gemma Owen to look towards a bright future for the club and community…
For those who don’t know you, what’s your role with the Club?
“I am part of the charity arm of the Football Club, taking the club out into the community and taking part in various football and education projects to try and improve the health and wellbeing of the wider community.”
What does this funding mean for women’s football in Wrexham?
“It means the absolute world to us. For the four or five years the women and girls section has existed, we’ve had a dream and ambition for the Club and Foundation to have that section. It’s grown significantly thanks to the support we’ve had from the National League Trust. This will just allow us to make that next step – we’re currently going through the criteria to become a tier-two club and this will help us to put that infrastructure in place. We have the ambition to eventually be a Women’s Welsh Premier League Club and this is going to help us in that goal.
“It’s been difficult from a Foundation perspective while the club has been at this level. Most of our funding comes from external sources and some of the backing we would have perhaps liked has not come to fruition because, for obvious reasons, there have been other priorities. It’s fully understandable, it’s about ensuring the club has a chance of progression, but from a Community Foundation point of view it has been difficult. I’ve no doubt now that this will be a big boost to all of us.”
What kind of an impact do you think the new owners will have on the Club?
“Excitement is a bit of an understatement. I think, I hope, that this sort of investment will allow the club to realise that ambition. It goes for the men’s side, the women’s side, the Foundation – I don’t think there is anybody at the club who isn’t going to benefit from this. It really is exciting stuff, and I can’t wait.”
And for the wider community?
“It’s lovely from a Foundation perspective. One of the many parts of our job is to take the club out into the community and to hear people talking about the club with such excitement makes what we do that little bit more worthwhile. It’s amazing.
“Things at the moment are quite difficult, because of the health crisis, in terms of going out into the community. But, when we were allowed to go out last year after the proposed takeover had been announced, lots of children were asking us about it. They’ kept saying they were looking forward to Rob and Ryan taking over, and it’s been on people’s minds. It’s what people have been taking about when we go out into the community. It’s having an effect already and we’re noticing that, and I have a feeling that’s only going to get bigger and bigger.”
What does it mean to you as a fan?
“Well, Wrexham AFC has been a big part of my life for such a long time. I’ve been coming to watch since I was six years old. My Dad has been a fan for such a long time, and is still a steward here. Myself and my brother started coming with him and have pretty much never left. It’s an absolute dream to work for a club that I’ve supported all my life.”
“Dropping down through the leagues has been difficult. I grew up watching the teams in the 90s and it’s difficult to now see us playing at this level. I understand the reasons we are here, and the things that went on behind the scenes that most people are aware of, but seeing the old footage that has been put out recently, during these ownership talks, of the 90s and the 2000s it’s been an absolute joy to watch and reminisce and I’ve no doubt the club will be back at those levels and perhaps even higher – dare to dream. It’s going to be absolutely amazing.”