After many years of talking about it, the Rochdale Former Players Association (RFPA) has been launched with the help of the Dale Trust.
The aim of the RFPA is to reunite those who have worn the Dale shirt over the years, with the intentions of hosting two or three events each season for the benefit of its members. Membership is free to anyone who has played at least one first team game for the club.
The first event will take place early in the season when the trust will be inviting former players to attend a home game at Spotland.
Quite where the RFPA ends up will be down to its members. It will be run by the Dale Trust for the first twelve months, and then the hope is that a Committee can be formed amongst the Former Players to take it on.
Col Cavanah, a board member on the trust board, talked to SD about the importance of the trust in this initiative and why it was beneficial for the trust as well as the club:
"We had considered launching the RFPA for a number of seasons but a lack of numbers on our Trust committee meant that other areas were deemed to be of a higher priority. However, with numbers at a much healthier level it was decided, following encouragement from Rochdale Chief Executive Russ Green, that we should give it a go.The groundwork had unknowingly started several months earlier. The Trust sponsor the matchball three times a season at the Crown Oil Arena, inviting Trust members picked at random for pre-match hospitality. We took this a stage further last season by inviting former Dale greats to be our guest at these match sponsorships, and over the course of the season we had guests that included Shaun Reid, Steve Whitehall and Steve Taylor. The feedback from members was very positive, and it had already been agreed to repeat this.On the back of this, Steve Whitehall agreed to be our guest speaker at our annual Curry Night which raised a four figure sum for Trust funds and a significant amount of money for a local charity in memory of a former Trust member who had recently died.From then, it started with a website and we were up and running attracting former players going as far back as the 60's.Our members have been very receptive to our work with former players, and in an era where football is unfairly called sterile, there seems to be a great deal of warmth amongst our fanbase for our former players, perhaps in the same way bands from twenty odd years ago can still count on playing to packed houses. The club have been appreciative over this and have also supported us by providing us with a number of contacts.The plan we have in place is that we will run the RFPA for the first year, before looking to former players themselves to take it on board for the future. We are toying with the idea of co-opting one of them to be the RFPA rep on the Trust Committee. Irrespective of whether that happens or not, we don't see it as being especially difficult to run. We are looking at having three events per season for the RFPA, two of which would be massively beneficial with our Fundraising events over the next year.We'd encourage any Trust to consider running something similar to this. It's proved to be very popular with our members and its provided us with some fantastic contacts that will be beneficial to the Trust as well as our FPA."
This project is a great example of how effectively a club and trust can work together for the benefit of the supporters. The trust is also highlighting the great work that it carries out with players that are old and new, which is never a bad thing. We welcome more trusts to get involved with a project like this and if your trust is doing something similar, let us know by commenting below.