It has been widely reported that Coventry City has been one of 47 clubs to receive the Football League Family Excellence Award for the 2013/14 season. This decision has been widely criticised and described as a kick in the teeth for many City fans. Certainly it shows crass insensitivity by the Football League considering that our "home" matches are now played 35 miles from Coventry but it should not detract from the fact that this award has not really been earned by the club. It has actually been earned by die-hard Coventry City fans such as Pat Raybould who volunteer their services free of charge because they believe that the youngsters shouldn't miss out despite the problems surrounding the club. Pat gives up a huge amount of time and effort to make the match day experience as good as possible for the Junior Sky Blues in obviously difficult circumstances. We understand Pat's views and congratulates her and her team in their unstinting efforts for the youngsters. We hope one day she will be able to carry on her work back in Coventry.
We asked Pat to put down a bit of information about the JSB's and the work done by her and her team of volunteers:
"A few years ago in the days of Paul Fletcher and Ken Sharp the idea came about to give more to the young fans of Coventry City. I got involved because I worked in a Coventry primary school and we took part in the after school football sessions with SBITC.
"Initially the idea was to offer families of schoolchildren free tickets to matches at The Ricoh. The tickets were collected from the Jaguar Exhibition Hall before the game and different activities were available inside the hall. There were various issues with this system and when Nathan Kosky came to the club new Tickets for Schools initiative was introduced. This scheme ran up until our move to Northampton and was supported by Pat Abel, Cheryl and Elaine who put in many hours and great effort to make it a success.
"When this new scheme came into being the team of original volunteers were asked to consider putting on pre-match activities in The Ricoh’s Family Zone. These activities have included, arts and crafts, games, competitions, face painting, player visits and much more. To keep the arts and crafts free, we ran a 10p competition once a month and were ably supported by the club when we needed prizes.
"The JSB Christmas Party is the biggest event of the year. Again we organise arts and crafts. We also, with the support of the club and donations from players, hold a 25p tombola for some “money can’t buy prizes” Any money raised by these activities goes straight back into the “pot” so that we can continue to resource future free activities. We have given out Christmas gifts, Easter Eggs, and goody bags at the last game of the season. We also held a raffle at the game v Wolves with 4 prizes donated by the club. This raised enough for the “pot” to take us into next season. This year we have also been lucky to receive donations, from The Diamond Club, Cov Support and members of the SCG. These donations were very much appreciated by the team.
"We also turn up at events where CCFC are out and about in the close season and again put on arts and crafts.
"The whole team understand and respect everyone’s view on the current situation that the club finds itself in, but we do not think it should be our young fans who should suffer. In fact just the opposite we need to make sure that they get the maximum enjoyment they can at every game and whilst we can’t influence what happens on the pitch we can certainly make sure that their pre-match experience is remembered.
"After all this has been said every member of the volunteer team want Coventry City FC back in it’s rightful place."