As Pep Guardiola and his Manchester City side yesterday marked a season of success by lifting the Premier League trophy at the Etihad Stadium, the end of the domestic campaign provided a poignant moment to reflect on a year unlike any other off-the-pitch for the Club and its wider community.
While COVID-19 created physical distance through closed-doors and empty stadiums, the true strength of the Manchester City ‘DNA’ has been reflected in the extraordinary impact football has made on the local community when it comes to emergency response and recovery.
Currently operating as an NHS vaccination centre, the Etihad Campus has played a pivotal role to benefit the city of Manchester at its time of need, with fans and staff not there to fulfil its traditional purpose.
In March 2020, the Club entered into a formal partnership with the NHS and the Council which led to the transformation of the Campus and saw the development and delivery of a wide range activities stewarded by Manchester City, including testing facilities.
More than 350 nursing staff working across Manchester, including within local community care and children’s settings were trained at the Etihad Stadium.
While last month, as part of a new pilot project in collaboration with the Manchester Fashion Institute at Manchester Metropolitan University and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), innovative new hospital gowns made from City shirts were designed, created and donated to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, helping young in-patients feel like their on-field heroes as they battle some of the toughest moments of their lives.
Launched last June in response to the lasting impact COVID is having in our communities, the Club’s ongoing work as part of the ‘Cityzens Giving for Recovery’ initiative is continuing to support those in their time of need. To date more than £1million has been raised via crowdfunding across the City Football Group, for targeted projects near each of the Group’s ten clubs across the globe.
“We are really proud to play for a Club with such a strong connection with our community here in Manchester and our communities all around the world,” said City midfielder, Phil Foden.
“As players, we’re always focused on trying to perform the best we can on the pitch and represent all our fans. But we know off the pitch everyone has been working hard to help people around the world to recover from COVID.
“It’s really special that while we’ve been training at CFA, the NHS have also been helping so many people on the Etihad Campus.
“We’re so fortunate to have fans literally all over the world and we’ve been really proud to support Cityzens Giving for Recovery which is helping people in so many different countries.”
The Club has also led a substantial donations effort, rallying around those in local communities, ranging from foodbank donations and vouchers for local schools, to free education resources and gifts for children in care.