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Goalkeeper rewarded for work with school pupils

Posted onPosted on 4th May

Mansfield Town goalkeeper Aidan Stone has received an award for making a connection with younger fans.

The 21-year-old championed a Mansfield Town Football In The Community (FITC) healthy eating campaign with partner school Wynndale Primary School, Mansfield.

Now FITC has named Aidan as PFA Community Champion for the 2020/21 campaign.

“It feels great to receive the award. It’s something that I’ve always felt passionate about — connecting us professional footballers to the community through various projects, and trying to help them have a greater understanding in different aspects of life,” he said.

“It’s been difficult without fans this year, you don’t get the same buzz when you’re out on the pitch and I’m sure many feel the same way.

“I’ve always been a player who wants to have that connection with the younger fans and make their experience on match days be the best it can be — by doing these community projects, I hope that has gone some way to help.”

Aidan also provided support through lockdown in helping Football In The Community design healthy eating challenges.

“Healthy eating is something I’ve been really passionate about since we entered the first lockdown,” he added. “It’s important for younger children especially to understand what it takes to make it in the professional game.

“This project has allowed me to emphasise that -— the fine marginal gains you have off the pitch that can go a long way into how you perform when on it, or in some of the children’s case, within the classroom to have better focus and energy for learning.”

FITC community manager Gary Shaw said: “Aidan has been a fantastic role model for us this season and we’re very thankful for all the time and dedication he has given, particularly on the healthy eating project, which has been very well received.

“A lot of our visits this season have been virtual, but both Aidan and the rest of the squad who have given their time have really understood the importance of staying connected with supporters.

“I thank the football club for their continued support of community activities”

The PFA Community champion award is awarded at the conclusion of every season to a player who has gone above and beyond to make a difference within their community setting.

Aidan has followed the likes of Ryan Sweeney, Alistair Smith, Jamie McGuire, Paul Anderson and Rhys Bennett in winning the award in recent seasons.

John Hudson, PFA – director of corporate social responsibility, said: “The PFA has been immensely proud of the outstanding efforts of players during a very difficult season and we feel they should be recognised for their support and involvement in the local community.

“The award will hopefully raise awareness of the importance many of our members attach to their roles off the pitch and highlight their commitment to support those most in need during the crisis.”