Aberdeen FC Community Trust (AFCCT) has appointed a former Dons youth team player as its business development manager, as the charity looks to expand its outreach programmes across Aberdeen City and Shire.
Robbie Hedderman, formerly Scottish FA community coach for the Trust, has been promoted into the new position following a review of the organisation’s structure as it prepares to relocate to new purpose-built facilities this year.
Mr Hedderman began his professional football career with AFC playing for the youth team from 2001 – 2003, before returning to his home country, Ireland, for deals with Cork City and Derry City.
Following his career on the pitch, the former Irish youth international completed his coaching badges and also undertook financial advice training, working for a hedge fund administration company for nine years.
AFCCT was established as the official charity partner of the Club in 2014 with the aim of providing support and opportunity to change lives for the better throughout the North-east.
The charity engages with more than 17,000 participants each year across 60 programmes and initiatives, with volunteers from the organisation delivering more than 5,000 hours of free community support in their spare time.
In his new role at the Trust, Mr Hedderman will work closely with local schools and businesses to increase the number of people in the community engaging with programmes organised by the charity.
He said: “I’m excited and proud to take on this new role at the Trust. It’s an exciting time to be part of the organisation as we prepare to relocate to dedicated, purpose-built facilities at Kingsford.
“Our goal for the next 12 to 18 months is to engage even more with local businesses and find out what they want to invest in and what they want to see more of in their community.
“We deliver a range of events throughout the year for private sponsors, like business lunches and golf days, and we have some private funders who support our programmes with others funded through council contracts.
“The 14 schools that we currently support throughout the North-east are really happy with the programs we deliver but we need longer-term financial support to sustain these. So there will be a strong focus on securing a 10 to 15 year model if we can.”
Some AFCCT staff will relocate from Pittodrie to AFC’s new training facilities and community sports hub at Kingsford later this year, allowing the club’s charity partner to support more individuals in communities and reach even more participants of all ages and from different walks of life.
Phase one of the development is underway and includes the construction of the training pavilion, groundsman’s accommodation, three professional training pitches, two 3G pitches and one grass pitch, the latter being mainly for use by AFCCT.
Mr Hedderman added: “I think there’s been some concern that a lot of our programmes will move out to the new facilities, but that’s not the aim for us. Kingsford will allow us to be well anchored in the city and in an ideal location to run our activities with partners and local organisations throughout the North-east.
“I think one of the biggest attractions to potential partners is our ability to be agile. We have always tried to support what the community needs rather than identify what we want to do, so we really are an open book for companies looking to work with us.”
The club has been consulting with Westhill and Elrick and Kingswells Community Councils and representatives from local sports groups to discuss the best use of the facilities.
Rob Wicks, AFC’s commercial director and AFCCT Trustee, said: “Robbie has played a significant role in engaging participants and partners in the inspirational work done by the Trust throughout his time at the organisation and is thoroughly deserving of this promotion.
“With his unique experience in football and business, he is well placed to ensure the Trust continues to go from strength to strength as we prepare to move to Kingsford and expand our capabilities to respond to the needs more individuals in communities, not just in the city but across the North-east.”
For more information about AFCCT, including details about the upcoming AFCCT day on Saturday, February 16, please visit: www.afc.co.uk