Portsmouth FC and university combine to inspire school children

(l-r) Portsmouth FC player Jack Whatmough, Julie Summerfield, headteacher at Horndean Technology College and Martin Lloyd (14).''Picture: Sarah Standing (020419-)
(l-r) Portsmouth FC player Jack Whatmough, Julie Summerfield, headteacher at Horndean Technology College and Martin Lloyd (14).''Picture: Sarah Standing (020419-)

Representatives of Portsmouth FC and the University of Portsmouth gave a motivational presentation to teenagers at Horndean Technology College.

The team that gave the talk in the school’s library was Mark Catlin, the chief executive officer of Portsmouth FC, Jack Whatmough, Portsmouth defender, and Anna Mitchell, commercial director.

There were also three student ambassadors from the University of Portsmouth: Sydney Bautista, Lamine Kherroubi and Marwan Kisserwan, as well as two from the University outreach team: Jodie Anthony and Emilie Smith.

So what drove Portsmouth Football Club to create a partnership with the University of Portsmouth?

At the talk, at the beginning of April, Mr Catlin explained that it wasn’t the commercial impact that was the deciding factor, as the club had much larger offers - they wanted a sponsor that clearly represented Portsmouth.

Catlin volunteered to join the club in September 2012 when he saw a double-page spread in the newspaper about the club and the looming liquidation. He had just left Bury, then a League One side, and wanted to help the desperate situation – he became CEO after initially volunteering.

Portsmouth’s fanbase is renowned nationwide and even more so after roaring their side to the Checkatrade Trophy victory at Wembley Stadium the previous weekend. Mark described the mental rollercoaster that the weekend had been for him; not wanting the game to kick off because of the incredible experience that he had had over the two days that the team was in north-west London before Pompey put the 40,000-strong choir through many emotions.

Pompey’s first half performance was poor and they were lucky to only be 1-0 down at half-time. But the Blues drew level in the second half after improving their performance and scored again in injury time, only to be pegged back themselves. They then sent the Pompey supporters into raptures by winning on penalties.

The students were told about two former students from the University of Portsmouth who worked hard to achieve their goals.

Reon arrived at the university without being able to swim yet he found such a passion for a sport that he was able to become president of the university swim team.

Vincent was a former professional footballer for Portsmouth. After being released he didn’t have many qualifications but went on to set up a mental health app for students. Vincent worked incredibly hard to achieve his goal after finishing his football career.

Jack Whatmough possibly has the most inspirational story of all – the Pompey youth product is currently recovering from his third major injury aged just 22.

Whatmough said: ‘It’s something that now I know you have to get on with. You just have to focus on getting yourself fit and mentally and physically strong.’

It was a brilliant session for the students who left the library motivated and excited about their futures. The partnership between two of the greatest institutions of Portsmouth has been incredibly successful so far and there is no reason why it shall not be for years to come.

Martin Lloyd