Why Swansea manager Russell Martin makes a real impact for Brighton and Sussex
Brighton born Swansea boss Russell Martin will be up against his home town club tonight in the Carabao Cup but continues his close links with Sussex through the work of his foundation.
Martin, who previously played as a defender for Lewes, Wycombe, Norwich and Rangers before embarking on his managerial career, set up the Russell Martin Foundation to impact positively on children and young people through football, education, health and improvement.
Their education outreach includes a 12 week programme called Extra Time which works in 10 secondary schools across Brighton & Hove, along with schools in West Sussex.
The foundation supports students struggling with mainstream education with the aim of improving school attendance, progression and well-being.
They also run a number of football projects including an Academy, girls football programme, holiday courses alongside disability and walking football sessions.
“It’s always been important to me wherever I’ve been in my career to retain my roots in my home town and that’s one of the reasons that I set up the Foundation," said Martin, who won 29 caps for Scotland during his playing career.
"It has always been about giving something back to the area. I got quite involved with the Community Trust at Norwich City during my time at the club and I saw the impact that football could have on the wider community.
“At first we set it up to give more young players a chance – I’ve always thought that we don’t produce enough young players in Sussex.
"We’ve grown from having a dozen kids at a holiday camp to developing an academy and an education programme that helps people from a wide range of backgrounds.
"I’m really proud of the strides we have made and the team who run the Foundation day to day. They understand my values and how I want it to be run.
“The education side of things has been an area that we have really focussed on in terms of our provision.
"There is an important link with football because so many young kids drop out of game and education is often neglected but is so vital.
"That’s why we have a real focus on delivering quality education on our football programmes.”
“One of the areas we want to do more in is health and especially mental health when it comes to children and young people who have been particularly affected by the pandemic over the last 18 months.”
The refurbishment of Old Barn Way, the former home of Southwick FC, is also a major priority for the charity.
It was awarded the lease on the site by Adur District Council earlier this year and have plans to turn it into a community hub for health, education and well-being including the development of a new club house.
“We want to build something for the whole community at Southwick that goes beyond football and is something that is used every day by the community and we are looking to raise funding to realise those plans.”
Despite his close links to the area Martin will be determined to see his team progress in the Carabao at the Amex tonight.
“I’m really looking forward to it. It will be the first time I’ve come back to Brighton since I’ve been at Swansea and I’ll have lots of family and friends at the game.
"I really want us to give a good account of ourselves. I grew up supporting the club as a kid at the Goldstone and then the Withdean so it will be a special one for me.
"They’ve had a fantastic start to the season and Graham is a manager that I really respect.”
To find out more about the Russell Martin Foundation visit www.russellmartinfoundation.co.uk