PFA pledges £500,000 to Reposm Sporting Housing Trust

PFA pledges £500,000 to Reposm Sporting Housing Trust

The PFA have pledged £500,000 to the Reposm Sporting Housing Trust, a charity devoted to providing sheltered accommodation for retired sportspeople who have fallen on hard times.

The players’ union agreed to make the donation to Reposm after the Sportsmail campaign raised awareness in August and it represents a huge step towards the initial target of raising £2million required to build the first block of a dozen flats.

“This is phenomenal news,” said Reposm Trust chairman Mike Soper. “I am absolutely ecstatic about the contribution of £500,000 from the PFA to the Reposm Sporting Housing Trust. The recognition of our charity by one of the UK’s leading sports associations is wonderful in helping the cause of housing ex-sportspeople who have fallen on hard times.”

“We still need much more help in achieving our goal of building our first scheme and really hope that more people from the sporting community will and help us. My great thanks to the Daily Mail for all their support in promoting this worthy undertaking. It really gave us the impetus we needed and galvanised the whole project.”

Daily Telegraph 14 November 2019 on Reposm Sporting Housing Trust

The Professional Footballers’ Association and the League Managers’ Association are in talks with a charity backed by Sir John Major and Sir Alex Ferguson to begin a sheltered accommodation scheme that could be extended into dementia care for former players.

The Reposm Sporting Housing Trust, a not for profit social housing charity chaired by the Surrey County Cricket Chairman Michael Soper, is already raising funds for a flat-building scheme to provide low-rent accommodation for former sports people in need.

Soper, though, is acutely aware of new research from the University of Glasgow which has proven a link between former professional footballers and dementia and hopes this first project will be the start of properly phased and appropriate care for former sporting heroes.

Premier League clubs will consider the research, with the FA now pushing for an industry-wide fund to cover care-home costs for former players.

“You could have different grades easily”, Soper said. “Sheltered accommodation is obviously for people who have fallen on hard times – and there are thousands of these – but if this could be linked into the dementia care there is no reason why it couldn’t follow on.”

Soper is also the voluntary Chair of the Cyril Woods Memorial Trust which provides sheltered housing in Dorset for retired artists, musicians and craftspeople. They have facilities that are relevant to their specific former profession, including additional communal areas for art and music.

“We have found that bringing people together of like-mindedness in professions is great for them.” Soper said “They look after each other. They are not left. Loneliness can be one of the contributors to dementia.”

David Pleat, who serves on the LMA Board, has been gathering support after seeing how some of his former colleagues are suffering various physical ad mental difficulties, including dementia.

Ferguson has described the idea as a “caring way of looking after those less fortunate sportspeople who have fallen on hard times” and hopes that the initiative of Reposm “will receive maximum support.”

Gordon Taylor, the PFA Chief Executive, has held discussions with Soper about a potential first scheme or around 16 flats which, with sufficient funding, could then be extended across the country.

League Managers Association gives backing

The League Managers Association are giving financial backing to a scheme aimed at building a retirement home for former sportsmen and women. Senior figures at the LMA have been worried about the number of elderly former managers suffering from low incomes and with declining mental capacity and dementia. One former top-flight manager is said to be ‘lost in a retirement home with little company and nobody to talk to’. The LMA has agreed to support the Reposm Sporting Housing Trust, which has been set up by the former ECB Vice Chairman Michael Soper. The charity wants to raise UKP2m to purchase and convert a block of flats in Dorset to sheltered accommodation for former sports stars who have fallen on hard times

Sir Alex Ferguson C.B.E. gives support to Reposm

Sir Alex Ferguson C.B.E gives support to Reposm

Reposm aims to provide affordable homes to former sports stars who have fallen on hard times.

The scheme has the backing of Sir Alex Ferguson, who is a senior figure at the League Managers Association and is particularly keen to see more support for ageing former managers, coaches and scouts.

Sir Alex Ferguson spoke to Sportsmail about the proposal

“A caring way of looking after those less fortunate Sportspeople who have fallen on hard times in their later years. I hope it will receive maximum support.”

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Reposm Charity Launch

Henry Winter -The Times Chief Football Writer – writes about Reposm

The Game has a duty to help old heroes in times of trouble

It is one of the unmentioned scandals of modern football, a blemish on the game, heartbreaking for all who care about those who have given everything, who still serve so selflessly. It is the sight of former players, coaches and managers now working as scouts, heading into a ground, progress slowed by some old ligaments, others by the new onset of arthritis. They still hurry in. Some are lonely, on the breadline, even needing a roof over their heads. But they go.

It’s mad. Football is awash with wealth at the top and parched down the pyramid.

Many of those scouts, simply desperate to stay in the game, will receive expenses at best for their appraisal of promising players, maybe a voucher for a half-time beaker of tea, but they still go,  drawn inexorably to the match.

Floodlights are a beacon, a siren for the soul.  It’s what they know. It’s what they love.

They crave the sound of the crowd that formed the backing tune to their working lives, relishing the camaraderie of peers. The more sharp-witted fear the end game, life’s final whistle. This is why football should remember its riches and responsibilities and should act, protecting its older brethren.

Football is infatuated by the invincibles when it should never forget the vulnerables. I wish them well but it’s hard not to worry, especially with the less feted ones, lacking the celebrity, the C.V., the recognition, the club history, the backstory, the remuneration. All football men and women need looking after. An august generation is at risk.

Some cannot get to matches. They suffer the onset of dementia. Memories blur. Some are bereaved, struggling to live without the childhood sweetheart they met at school or a club dance, whom they wooed and wedded sharing the exhausting but joyous arc of parenting. Then the unspoken pain as offspring move on leaving them with an empty house, even emptier when the beloved partner moves on. Who looks after them then? Family? Football?

That is why the heart gets lifted at football’s plan to join forces with cricket and many other sports to build a rest home in Wimborne Minster, Dorset for former managers, coaches, players and scouts who have fallen on hard times.

Mike Soper, the former President of Surrey CCC, Sir John Major, the longstanding Chelsea fan and former Prime Minister, and David Pleat of the League Managers Association are involved in the plan through the Reposm Sporting Housing Trust to raise UKP2 million by 2021 for a block of flats. Sir Alec Ferguson and Muricio Pochettino have pledged their support. Longer term they want three properties.

Reposm provides”sheltered accommodation for professional sportspeople facing a bleak retirement”. It could be the erstwhile well-known cricketer, drained emotionally and financially by divorce, resorting to sleeping on a friend’s sofa. Or the footballing scout, a noted former player, left bereft without his wife, spiralling downwards, short of money and support. It will not be cheap, whether buying the property, funding the upkeep, medical attention and insurance. But football, sport, has a duty.

Some are already in homes. Take the much loved Jim Smith. He would not be eligible for the means-tested Reposm but his story is poignant. Those who have visited the 78 year old at an old people’s home in Oxford know he is well looked after by a loving family, by specialists in dementia, by good men like Steve McClaren and Pleat calling by. I’ll never forget interviewing him in 2001 in his office before he boarded Derby County’s early bus to Manchester United. Smith’s handyman had just been in to have a word, confiding that his wife had just had cancer diagnosed. Jim was all heart, offering compassion and time off. “And there was I thinking about 3 points,”Jim told me. “Things like that put football into perspective”.

And now football has to keep its ego in check, and remember its duty to Smith and his generation. Smith has the funds and family to look after him. Too many of his generation don’t. Those who worked down the leagues retired with little. Those planning this Wimborne accommodation mention that even the well-tended Smith inhabits a home with really only one fellow resident who can talk to him about football. They need conversation as well as medical attention. They need the game to remember them.

Football must never become no country for old men.

Reposm Charity Launch

Reposm — A new Charity in the making

The Reposm proposal is based on an existing successful housing model in the world of music and arts. Michael Soper is the voluntary Chairman of Cyril Wood Memorial Trust, which provides sheltered housing for retired artists, musicians, authors, and craftspersons. It has 24 self-contained flats where residents can live alongside other retired neighbours from the Arts world, whilst continuing to follow their career passions and interests thanks to shared studio spaces and a large communal lounge (complete with a grand piano).

The concept of Cyril Wood was conceived and founded in 1975 by people from all areas of the Arts, including Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Joyce Grenfell, J.B.Priestley, John Le Carre, Lord Goodman, Viscount Cranborne and Victor Bonham-Carter.

Cyril Wood is managed by its Corporate Trustee, the charity East Boro Housing Trust, of which Michael is also a voluntary Board Member. East Boro’s expertise ensures that the buildings are maintained, tenants are supported, and the many laws and regulations are complied with.

The musicians’ Performing Rights Society Benevolent Fund is a major supporter of the Cyril Wood Memorial Trust, providing finance for the Trust’s expansion and modernisation, and in return it nominates some of the potential residents for the scheme from amongst the musicians who they support.

This is the actual operating example that has inspired Michael to make the Reposm proposal.