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Rochdale AFC's Dale in the Community Sports Trust has been operating for almost 30 years.

The Football in the Community (FITC) initiative began operating officially in September 1987 and saw the now Head of Community, Keith Hicks, take up his role three weeks later on October 5th.

Former footballer Hicks, who is still in the job today, was forced to retire from the game after sustaining an injury during a match against Crewe Alexandra at Spotland, and returned to the club to take up the role in the Community Department.

The scheme was the brainwave of Micky Burns of the Professional Footballers Association and he originally oversaw the setting up of projects at Manchester City, Manchester United, Bolton Wanderers, Oldham Athletic, Preston North End and Bury, followed six months later by Rochdale and five other clubs.

The intention was to use the facilities at each club to promote community engagement and use players to act as role models, especially to youngsters in the local communities.

The aims and objectives set out for Rochdale AFC were to encourage more people (especially children) to play football, to encourage more people to become support Rochdale AFC by forging closer links between the club and the local community, and to promote the issue of social inclusion by offering opportunities to young people who may be prevented from fully participating in mainstream activities.

These objectives are exactly the same today.