Bravo Burgess '“ but more Pompey contribution required
The applause for Christian Burgess' superb gesture has still to die down.
But Clare Martin longs for when such Pompey selflessness doesn’t raise a ripple of recognition.
For 15 years, Martin has headed the award-winning Pompey in the Community.
An independent charitable trust affiliated with the club, there have been many success stories through the involvement of Blues players in their projects.
John Utaka piloting a hovercraft while visiting an Isle of Wight special needs school, Lomana Lualua escorting a bullied girl to her school prom, while Peter Crouch was accompanied by Abbey Clancy to one school event.
Examples of how Pompey players can deliver a positive impact in the community.
Yet, for Martin, it is not enough.
And she hopes Burgess’ impromptu coaching session with Skilful Soccer Youth under-12s can open the door for increased involvement.
Pompey in the Community’s chief executive said: ‘Nowadays, player involvement with us is good – but it could be even better.
‘We haven’t got a problem with egos, which we had in the past, so if players come along to events they are fabulous.
‘Christian is very good and what he did at the weekend was absolutely brilliant, he is a lovely, lovely bloke.
‘However, what we really need is for that to be the norm. I have been here 15 years and wanted that since day one.
‘A player’s presence adds a different perspective.
‘The moment a player turns up it lifts it. We have programmes trying to get boys reading and if you have a player to read or write with them the impetus is there.
‘I would like my biggest problem to be: “what are we going to do with this guy who wants to do something with us?”
‘We do it here, but it’s not embedded. They carry it out on a very ad-hoc basis rather than being a Tuesday afternoon and all the players go and do their community thing.
‘But the current players are really good. Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain was among four young lads who turned up at 4.30pm for our disadvantaged kids’ Christmas party.
‘With it scheduled to end at 7pm, at around 5.30pm-6pm I said: “it’s okay lads, you’ve done your bit, you can go”. But they all wanted to stay until the finish.
‘How good is that.’
Martin also serves as the Blues’ director of community projects and sits on the Pompey Supporters’ Trust board.
And she praised the contribution of some from the Premier League years.
She added: ‘Some were absolutely brilliant, you couldn’t fault them.
‘David James would say: “Clare, we haven’t done anything for a couple of weeks, what are we going to do?”
‘Richard Hughes, Linvoy and Hermann Hreidarsson and John Utaka were absolutely brilliant.
‘There was a little girl bullied dreadfully at school and Lualua drove her in his car to her prom, walking her in. From that day on her reputation changed.
‘It can make such a difference to people’s lives.’