International retirement has left Steven Gerrard with more time on his hands.
Time that will be spent with his family; improving the golf swing (he currently plays off twelve); and working with the foundation he set up in February 2011 with the aim of generating as much money as possible to provide additional funding for as many children's charitable organisations as possible.
“It’s nice to be able to be in a position to give some free time back,” said the former England captain. “This community and everyone around here has supported me since I made my debut for Liverpool and I’m in the position I am now because of the support that I’ve had. So I think it’s important that I realise that and do whatever I can in my power to give a bit back.”
I caught up with Gerrard last week at the Lord Derby Academy in his home town of Huyton, where his Foundation was putting on a four-day summer camp for local children, in conjunction with the Hugh McAuley Football Academy. And don’t be surprised if you recognise that name…..Hugh McAuley coached a young Steven Gerrard in his Liverpool Academy days.
“Three years ago Steven asked me if I’d consider doing a course for his own foundation that met the criteria of giving kids an opportunity to get involved in not only sporting activities but other activities,” said McAuley.
“It’s getting kids to come out and enjoy themselves,” added Gerrard, “play football, dance. It keeps them out of trouble and they’ve obviously had a great time over the four days and it’s nice to give them a certificate and a trophy at the end of it so they’re all smiling on the way home.”
In the three years the camps have been running over 300 children have benefitted from eight separate groups, Aspiring Individuals; Girls Football Development Squad; The Knowsley Junior Football League; Gifted and Talented; Looked after Children; Family First - as well as Gerrard’s two former schools Huyton with Roby Primary and Cardinal Heenan Secondary.
Once again this year Gerrard was the main attraction on presentation day, his congratulations to each and every one of the children who’d taken part adding to their own sense of achievement.
“Steven is dedicated to his foundation and you learn with Steven if he does something he does it properly,” was Hugh McAuley’s endorsement. ”He does a great deal of work on his own behalf for underprivileged children, going to see children who are not particularly well. He’s been heavily involved with Alder Hey and there’s a great deal of work going on within his foundation to cover a lot of different projects across Merseyside.”
England’s loss is obviously his Foundation’s gain….and it’s work Gerrard clearly gets a lot out of…..he describes the recent signing over of a £500,000 cheque to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital as one of the proudest days of his life.