Clubs to watch : Gillingham Town FC
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Here are some fun facts you may not have known before today!
Gillingham Town FC
Founded in 2010, Gillingham Town Football Club play in the Kent County League Division 3 Central and East in the 2022/23 season. The England Football Accredited Club is based in Sittingbourne, Kent, and play at the Apple Yard Stadium. Bernardes and secretary Paul Pickford supports the club through their company Glow Move.
"Gillingham Town FC was founded in 2010 to tackle homelessness and alcoholism" - by giving people around Medway a focus and somewhere to play. Upon their move to Sittingbourne, the club considered changing names to match their region, but decided to keep their legacy behind the original name.
Club secretary Paul Pickford said that he "would most probably would have relapsed" without Gillingham Town - as the club kept track of him during his effort to tackle his reliance on alcohol. There are an estimated 602,391 dependent drinkers in England, of which only 18% are receiving treatment - and those who come out of rehab mostly don't have a support network, which the club provided for Paul.
Ex-Arsenal players Eduardo and Denilson are part of Gillingham Town as their Club Ambassadors. The son of Gilberton Silva appeared for the club in the past as well, while Denilson's former Sao Paulo teammates also played for Gillingham Town. The collaboration with such former professionals has given the club the chance to try new things - including the plan to send some of Gillingham Town's coaches to Denilson's academy in Brazil, welcome their teams to play in the UK, and experience English football.
Bernardes teamed up with Eduardo to establish Planet Moso with the aim to introduce substitutes to plastic, especially tooth brushes - as 4 billion get thrown away yearly and plastic waste is left is mounds. Eduardo also financed Gillingham Town to play at Central Park Stadium in the 2019/20 season as he, "really enjoyed my time at Arsenal, I really felt at home... and always wanted to do something over in the UK," especially with COVID19 hitting the grassroots football clubs hard.
Half of Gillingham Town's squad is composed of Brazilians, with the other half from other countries or England - which comes from Alex Bernardes' links with a number of former Arsenal players as well as his Brazilian friends in London. While his links have helped the club grow, the team are also helping new players settle into life in the UK - especially as many Brazilians come from Brazil to England to seek a better life. Alex explained that, "when they come over to England and the UK, they don't speak the language, they don't have the support, they don't know where to go, and us, as a club, we try to help them on and off the pitch." The Samba chemistry has helped Gillingham Town rise seven division since their founding in 2010.