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The Football Foundation column: Peter Schmeichel launches Barclays Community Sports Awards

Legendary Manchester United shot stopper Peter Schmeichel helped launch the Barclays Community Sports Award before the opening weekend of the Premier League season.

The award aims to recognise the outstanding achievements of individuals, that use sport to benefit communities across the UK and will be awarded every month during the Barclays Premier League football season.

This will be alongside the Barclays Player and Manager of the Month awards, to highlight the great efforts being made by many in community sport.

Schmeichel said: "Sport plays a huge role in communities around the UK and with many health, social and employment benefits, sport has the power to transform lives.

"However, none of this could happen without the unsung heroes who give up their time to bring sport into our communities."

Each monthly winner will receive £1,000 for their group or organisation, a limited edition trophy and will be entered into the end of season award to win a further £5,000 - all donated by Barclays Spaces for Sports.

The end of season award winner, will also receive an invitation to a celebratory event with Gareth Southgate in London.

Former England footballer Southgate heads up the judging panel with representatives from Barclays, the Premier League, the Football Foundation and The Times newspaper.

The award is being delivered in partnership between Barclays Spaces for Sports, the Premier League’s Creating Chances programme and the Football Foundation.

Ben Shephard put through paces at Putney Town training session

Goals on Sunday presenter Ben Shephard put his boots on to join training with the Putney Town FC squad during a pre-season session recently.

West Ham fan Shephard was at the session to present the club, with a cheque for £5,000 as part of the Football Foundation’s Grow the Game programme, which aims to increase participation and ensure that any increases are sustainable.

The Football Foundation ambassador got stuck into training and showed some decent touches.

Asked whether he’d be willing to join the team after impressing during the run-out, Ben replied that he’d love to but he works on Sunday mornings!

Ben, who took a quick breather from training, said: “The boys here are trying to increase participation so they can have two teams playing on a Sunday.”

Putney Town who finished second in the Premier Division of the Leatherhead and District Sunday League last season, also managed to reach three cup semi-finals along the way.

Ben added: “Hopefully the money from the Football Foundation will help them build on the success they achieved last season. They might even make it to a final!”

Helen Chamberlain and Tony Pulis unveil Torquay United’s new stand named in tribute to fan

Soccer AM presenter and Torquay United fan, Helen Chamberlain unveiled Torquay United’s new stand alongside Stoke City manager Tony Pulis and Torquay director Thea Bristow, when the Gulls took on the Potters in a pre-season friendly to mark the occasion earlier last month.

The new stand was built with the help of £750,000 from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF). The FSIF in funded with £6m provided annually by the Premier League.

The grant helped ensure that Torquay could replace the previous wooden structure that had been condemned with a 1,770 all-seater stand.

With the old stand in place, Torquay’s Plainmoor stadium held a capacity crowd of 5,545.

The new stand increases its capacity to over 6,000 and will greatly improve the matchday experience for Gulls fans.

The new all-seater grandstand has been named ‘Bristow's Bench’ in honour of benefactor Paul Bristow, who died in 2010.

In 2004, Torquay fan Paul won £15m on the lottery with his wife Thea and became a director at the club.

Thea, who has taken her late husband’s place as a director of the club, performed the ribbon-cutting ceremony, alongside Tony and Helen.

By Harriet Drudge – Follow me on Twitter @Drudgey

The Football Foundation is the country’s largest sports charity, funded by the Premier League, The FA and Government (via Sport England). For more information, follow us on Twitter @FootballFoundtn or visit the www.footballfoundation.org.uk

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