We talked to Jim Chisem of the Huddersfield Town Supporters Association about their role in the city, how they pivoted when the club got promoted and what their plans are to really help their community.
Could you tell us what the HTSA is, and how you were created?
Jim: The HTSA is the Huddersfield Town Supporters Association. We emerged from the Trust that was created when the club was on the brink of liquidation. Town was in League 2, at the bottom of the pyramid and the fans fell like something had to be done. The supporters rallied, created the trust and raised thousands and thousands, brought in a new majority shareholder, Dean Hoyle. At that point the role of the trust was obsolete and we had to rethink our organisation.
We have almost a thousand members. We don’t “recruit” fans anymore because, as you know, trusts are mostly for financially struggling clubs when we are riding a good wave. So the association pivoted and we decided to become a community activist group. We wanted to share the benefits of being in the Premier League, at the top of the pyramid now, with the rest of the city. It’s all about the community. So we got involved with different charities, helping minorities for example, refugees and now the foodbank. We definitely had to redefine ourselves, and we are very happy with what we’ve become.
You launched the HTSA Foodbank last November, with the initiative really taking off recently. Could you tell us more about that?
Yes, we launched a foodbank back in November. We were massively inspired by the Liverpool and Newcastle Fans foodbanks, which won a #MSSWeeklyAwards like we did. We had ideas, a vision but we needed some good examples and these guys helped massively. We can’t give them enough credit. We went to Liverpool, and we made a big donation. We did the same thing at Goodison Park and at St James’ Park. A few days ago we ran the foodbank with the club for the first time, or more precisely with the club’s charity branch The Town Foundation. We ran eight collection points, we had massive success and record donations. We have already extended it to the end of the season, and we will run collection points around town.
We see more and more involvement from fans, especially in the UK, around the
community, helping each other out through football. What do you make of this?
I find it absolutely abnormal to have foodbanks in the 21st century in an industrial world-power. It shows a broken system. Now, the football clubs are the only real institutions in town. In Huddersfield especially, HTFC are the only last working institution left. For us, it
becomes normal. We need to help each other out, help the man and the woman next to you. There is a tendency to see fans through the eyes of hooliganism, of violence and rivalry. However we showed, and other fans in the UK have shown great stuff. Football can be a positive force, and it is definitely the case in Huddersfield.
We also got involved in developing the women’s game. We really want to get them involved in football, encourage them to come to the games and play the game! We partnered with clubs and groups that push young girls towards the beautiful game. We also have a partnership with refugee groups and we do fundraising together. We really want to expand, become a central actor in the local community and to become a reference for everyone who would to make a change. We can help!
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