Notts County Blog by UoN alumni and County Community Officer + First Team Nutritionist Matt Lawson

29th September 2011

Notts County Blog by URN alumni Matt Lawson

Welcome to Nottingham. It’s a new academic year so sit tight again for the Notts County Blog…..Well, something like that! I hope you have all settled into the area and are enjoying what this fantastic city has to offer.

My last piece in May was just as many students were taking their end of year exams, so I would just like to say I hope you all got the results you wanted! There is nothing quite like the pressure of exams and if you can deal with those, you can deal with anything.

Where did the summer go? Since the end of last season it has been a whirlwind at Meadow Lane, there is no other word to describe it. I have now been in post at the club over a year now, having graduated from your very own University of Nottingham in July 2010. We underwent a huge community campaign in the summer centralising around two major projects. The first, called ‘School of the Week’ is all about giving young people aged 5-11 the chance to come and watch their first live football match and encouraging them to have a day to remember at Notts County. County is a wonderful club and is affectionately known as the family and community focussed club in Nottingham. Throughout the summer recess we received unprecedented demand for this scheme and now have to take bookings in advance, at present booked up until March 2012. Never thought that this fans of the future scheme would become so well established so quickly, it shows us the appetite is there for local schools to engage with the club.

The second project was actually born in the libraries of University Park and Sutton Bonnington campuses, the very places many of you will be studying in this semester. It is called ‘A Game of Two Halves’ and started with a few ideas scribbled on a post card when one of my master of nutrition assignments was to try to intervene early to try to address the childhood obesity boom. Through superb backing by Notts County Chairman Ray Trew and his board members, this has been rolled out as a major project at the Club. In addition to educating primary schools about nutrition and health the scheme has also proved to help towards building the next generation of Notts County fans. This scheme was re-launched for the 11/12 season just a few weeks ago with some of our first team players; the children loved it and the day was probably the highest point of my time working here, as ITV filmed our afternoon.

Earlier in the summer, ‘A Game of Two Halves’ was chosen nationally by Change for Life to win the Supporter of the Month award. As you will have already noticed, I am incredibly passionate about the above issues and to be addressing them while working for a football club I’ve supported since the age of four is special. Being a fan for the last twenty or so years hasn’t always been perfect; memories of travelling to places like Chester and Bristol Rovers in the fourth division in the early 2000s and getting well beaten are hard to forget. However like most football fans, the passion runs deep in the veins and has been passed down through parents and grandparents, and I would like to invite any student who wants to come and see a session and see what we do, to contact me and we will arrange for you to come and experience it with us.

On a serious note; the obesity, type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome and other childhood-related illnesses that are on the rise in the UK because of what we eat need to be addressed and I think early education is going to be the only way of doing it.

Followers of the blog last year may remember I have another role at County in addition to being the Community Officer. This has developed over the summer and manager Martin Allen and his management staff are to thank for this. In late June the manager and his staff spoke to me about getting involved with the players more and becoming First Team Nutritionist. I really was lost for words, the opportunity to become part of the staff working with the first team players at the club was absolutely fantastic, and looking back now, something I’d always dreamed of. So far this has gone really well and every week and month that has gone by I’ve been able to fit involvement in around our community obligations. The experience really has been wonderful, learning so many skills and so much more knowledge, and hopefully in return I have helped develop the nutrition and science arm of the club alongside the other staff, not something I ever thought I’d be doing when I was five years old with my dad sat in the Meadow Lane Family Stand!

Back to you guys at Nottingham University, I hope you have had a few nights out during Freshers Week and been to the Fayre. We have been working with University Radio Nottingham to set up links and have also taken part in some of the activities! The club are putting on a Student Day on Saturday October 22nd when County take on Brentford in a 3pm Kick Off at Meadow Lane. Exclusively to students, you can buy tickets for £5 and get entry to the match, plus a free pint, a Gatecrasher wristband and more free drinks at the nightclub! This is a barnstorming offer and everyone here at the Club hopes to see plenty of students taking advantage of this on the day…..That’s the plug out of the way!

Just finally, I would like to say thank you to those students who gave me wonderful feedback from this Blog last year. Being a Nottingham Alumni makes me very jealous of all of you! Enjoy it.
Hope to see you all here at URN1350.net regularly for the inside scoop on what we’ve been up to.

Best,

Matt

Matt is willing to answer any student related queries at matthew.lawson@nottscountyfc.co.uk or follow @MattLawson7 on twitter